With its rich, sharp flavour, red onion chutney is a refined preserve that is ideal for serving with meat and cheese.
The story behind red onion chutney is somewhat hazy but probably, like all fruit and vegetable preserves, it used to be made by farm labourers' families to use up the produce that was less than perfect and therefore not suitable for sale. So the onions used to be cooked with vinegar and sugar so that they could be stored in glass jars. Onions preserved in this way could then be eaten throughout the year.
Extremely easy to make, red onion chutney has a flavour that is initially sweet on the palate before widening its horizons to take on the typically sharp taste of this marvellously versatile vegetable.
Peel the onions, rinse them under cold tap water and then chop roughly. Put the onions into a large bowl, sprinkle with the vinegar and leave to rest for 2 hours, giving them a stir every 30 minutes.
Once this is done, add the sugar and leave to rest for a further 2 hours, stirring the onions every 30 minutes. Then transfer the mixture to a saucepan. Stew the onions gently for 30/40 minutes, taking care to stir frequently. Once cooked, pour the onion chutney into sterilized jars, seal them hermetically and preserve in a dark, cool and dry place.
Onion chutney makes an ideal accompaniment for meat dishes or for adding to canapés and toasted bread, but it can be enjoyed at its best with fresh or medium mature cheese.