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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Caramelizing Onions in the Slow Cooker

In anticipation of Labor Day, I am caramelizing onions. In the slow cooker. Which requires little labor.

I have discovered that I hate a number of things: going to the store for one thing, cooking at the last minute, dealing with onions, plus many more.

Because of the first on the list I recently bought 15 pounds of onions. For the last few months, I have been living la vida College Cook and using frozen chopped onions. This was partly for research and partly because, all through the summer, onions were over $1.00/pound! Ridiculous. Since frozen onions were the same or even less, I chose the lazy way.

This week, onions are 40 cents a pound. As we all know, onions don't last forever, especially in my hot and humid climate. I remembered reading that you could (sort of) caramelize onions in the slow cooker. Yes, you can. Just chop them, put 'em in with either oil or butter, turn the machine to high, wait 8 hours.

My slow cooker won't hold more than a few pounds at a time, so I will be doing this several times.

On the finer points, see the lengthy discussion at Chowhound.

I am going to freeze the much-reduced-in-volume onions in ziplocks and use in soups and, really, anything that calls for onions, caramelized or not. You can always make French onion soup or my beloved panade. I wrote about panade more than a year ago.

I got the panade recipe from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, which has some of the most overheated food prose I've experienced in a while.

It's still too hot here for French onion soup or panade. Or overheated prose.

One last tip: those onions smell TERRIBLE while slow cooking. We plug the slow cooker into an outlet on our porch. We do the ssame for beans.


Mary said...

What a clever idea! I was reading along wondering why you want to caramelize pounds of onions at a time. Then I got to the end, duh, you're freezing them! What a great plan. I caramelize a lot of onions and it really adds to the cooking time. If they come out of freezer okay then I'm going to try it. Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

mmmmm onions

I hope DS likes them one day, because we're going to eat them whether he wants them or not.

Shelley said...

Love, love, love caramelised onions. Great idea to save money & freezer space!

Duchesse said...

Carmelized onions are divine! What a great idea, frugal is just the icing n the cake.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Mary--I haven't taken any out of the freezer yet, but I'm sure they will be OK.

@Nicoleand MAggie--Caramelized onions are pretty sweet, so if you don't tell DS that they're onions, he might like them.

@Shelley--I agree!

@Duchesse--They're not as good as ones made the old-fashioned way, but at 10% of the work, I'm going to keep doing it the lazy way.