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How do you caramelize an onion?

Updated on March 16, 2011

To caramelize simply means to brown the onions. The natural sugars that are in onions come out when they're slow cooked over medium heat.

Methodology:

Choose large, firm cooking onions. The mild, yellow onions are the best flavored, but red onions have a milder or sweeter flavor. (However for the budget wise, red onions are more expensive). Peel, cut onions in half, then slice 3/8" thick half rings. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil per large onion in a frying pan. A wok really works well. A piece of onion dropped in oil should sizzle when oil is hot enough. Add onion slices and cook until they're a nice light brown color. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt, this will emphasize the sweet flavors of the onions. It will take about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir with a wooden paddle spoon scrapping the onion sugar off bottom of pan frequently. It is necessary to keep a close eye on the onions because they burn easy. Once onions are a caramel color add a teaspoon of water or stock while stirring, this will deglaze the bottom of the pan.

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    • profile image

      Iðunn 9 years ago

      you should haiku a lot just around, like so many of us do, and even try other forms.

      I think it's a good way of working stuff out for yourself, even if it's never published.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks Iðunn for saying so. I just can't get enough of your hubs either so we're even. My pityful attempts at poetry just go as far as fun haikus thats it.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      Iðunn 9 years ago

      these Hubs need to be boosted to the top in my opinion, by the way. these are real treasures.

      you certainly have my thumb.

    • profile image

      Iðunn 9 years ago

      now I know the difference and it wasn't even hard. oh you are a doll - thx for the help :)

      I shall have to set time aside before I shop to go through your Hubs and decide which things to try, in future.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Iðunn ! If I remember right sauteeing onions means to just get the onions opaque, carmelizing just takes a few minutes longer for the sugar in the onions to brown.

      enjoy Zs

    • profile image

      Iðunn 9 years ago

      great, I found it!  I just call that sauteeing and if sauteeing is something different then I have no idea what that is.  :p  but anyway, now I can try your hollandaise green bean side dish. :D

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Princessa! I love them too. French onion soup ! yum

      I'll go have supper

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 9 years ago from France

      It makes my mouth water! I love caramelized onions, french onion soup, onion salads, onion quiche, rosted onions... just about anything with onions!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Cgull! I've added fennel seed to my onions many times. It really gives it a totally different flavour. It also seems to take some of the strong smell away from the onions.

      Thanks for your comment

      regards Zsuzsy

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

      This is how my Indian friend cooks their meals, they add some times mustard seed or cumin or fennel seed and then they fry onions like you said. It adds a great taste to their foods.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      My daughters favorite meal is perogies served with, you guessed it, caramelized onions. So I have some experience in prepping them. What I forgot to mention which is really silly of me is that once you have caramelized your onions they can be frozen and they should last up to four months if they're in airtight bags or tupperware.

      Thanks for taking a look Michele, Marisa and MrMarmalade.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • MrMarmalade profile image

      MrMarmalade 9 years ago from Sydney

      you have been looking over my shoulder

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Marisa Wright 9 years ago from Sydney

      Great minds think alike! Except I forgot to mention adding some water to deglaze the pan...

    • Michele Engholm profile image

      Michele Engholm 9 years ago from Hutchinson

      Up to now...Caramelizing an onion sort of meant burning it... : ( Thanks for the info.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks for your comment!

      regards Zsuzsy

    • singingmommy profile image

      Candace Green 9 years ago from OKLAHOMA

      Nice Answer!!!