Onion Confit with Fig and Port


The busiest pickling and jam-making months are behind. However, I keep on making Apple and Pear Sauces, preserving exotic fruits (Mango Chutney or Hot Mango Sauce) and I have just started to prepare this year’s batches of onion confit. If you have ever been to a French deli, you have probably seen expensive small jars of “confit d’oignon”, seasoned with different alcohols and/or dried fruit. Confit is a long simmered, slightly sweet onion jam. It is typically served warm with foie gras (fat duck’s liver), but it is also excellent with black pudding, grilled or roast pork, chicken and duck. It works perfectly well also as a tart filling or even as a simple toast spread.

Since I have always found onion confit prices excessive and totally unfounded (onion being one of the cheapest and easiest stored basic European vegetable), I decided to experiment on my own. I quickly realised how cheap and easy the whole process was, even though it required several hours of long simmering. The fig and port version is by far my favourite, but even when both are skipped, the confit is excellent. I think a jar of confit is a very good idea for a home-made, edible Christmas present and an original alternative to flowers or chocolates when one is invited to someone’s house.

Onion confit can be made with any onion variety. I usually go for the cheapest ones, since they “melt” a lot during the long simmering process.

TIP: Onion confit can be either processed and preserved in the pantry or stored in the fridge for one or two weeks. If you don not intend to process it, reduce the vinegar and sugar amounts. Here they act as preserving agents, but if the jam is eaten quickly, their addition is merely a question of taste balance.

Preparation: 3-5 hours (it can be made in two days)

Ingredients (yield depends much on the onions and preferred consistency, but don’t count on more than 2x 150 ml jars):

1 kg onions, peeled and sliced

4 dried figs

50g brown cane sugar

1 tablespoon salt

soy sauce (to taste) or more salt

100 ml ruby port wine

100 ml white wine vinegar 4,5%

2 tablespoons good quality oil

(ground pepper)

Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and let them soften a bit on a very low heat (you can put the lid on the pan, but remember to stir very often).

After about 10 minutes add the soy sauce, the sugar, finely chopped figs and the vinegar.

Let the whole mixture simmer on a very low heat for about an hour, frequently stirring.

Add the port wine.

Cover the onions with a lid, let them simmer for at least 2 more hours, stirring.

Adjust the taste, adding more vinegar or salt or sugar and let the confit simmer uncovered until the liquids evaporate and it takes a consistency of a jam.

/At this point you can (after the confit has cooled down) keep it in the fridge for a couple of weeks, or process it in the jars, as described below, and store it in your pantry for about a year/

Pour the confit, still hot, into sterilised jars. Cover with lids. Leave the jars to cool.

Place the cool jars into a big pan, bottom lined with an old kitchen towel folded in two (this will prevent the jars from breaking), cover up with hot – but not boiling- water to the level just below the lid. Bring to boil and keep on a very low heat, in simmering water, for around 20 minutes.
Stick on self-adhesive labels, write the name of the confit and don’t forget to mark the date.

NOTE: For the readers who live in the USA, this is not a USDA tested recipe and therefore not recommended for canning by their standards.


40 Replies to “Onion Confit with Fig and Port”

  1. I could happily live in your pantry, Sissi! I love onion jam and this is more exotic and has a wonderful twist to it. Love the fig addition. I’ve such a long list of your recipes that I want to make, I don’t know where to start! These would make lovely gifts for this coming Christmas holidays.

    1. Thank you, Ping. Maybe I should try to prepare a room for my guests there 😉 Let me know if you ever try any of my recipes and write to me if you have any questions. I will be very happy to help!

  2. Nice, I’ve been making caramelised onions after seeing Greg’s post on Rufusguide a few weeks ago which are just great (so nice in a sandwich, nom nom!) but I never tried making a confit before. They’re totally overpriced as you say, although the effort needed to produce them isn’t small, because the onions shrink down to nothing. When you consider that a small jar probably has the volume of 1 raw onion, but about 10 onions once they’ve all sizzled away for 3 hours. Even so though, I agree that it’s much more fun to make it yourself. I find confit d’oignon is absolutely with steak too – so good! Must give this a try soon, thanks for sharing the recipe Sissi! 🙂

    1. I still remember Greg’s caramelised onions. They must have been delicious! Still, in spite of the volume shrinkage onions are cheap: I buy them 1 euro per kilo and when I think confit is mroe expensive than raspberry jam which I never make because raspberries cost a fortune… I suppose it is all based on the demand and the fact that people are used to buy expensive confit d’oignon.

      1. Oh for sure – I think I have ~30 kilos of onions sitting in my basement right now. Need to find something to do with those. Confit looks like a good idea, but my God I’m going to be crying after preparing all those!

        1. Wow! Lucky you! I would make different experiments with onion confit. My mum always advises me “shrinking” preserves when I have huge amounts of fruits or vegetables. It’s true, I’m always crying too. Apparently it’s very healthy!

    2. Oh, I meant to say – I bought poppy seeds from the store the other day – I noticed they were selling them “en vrac”. I couldn’t remember how many were required in your recipe so I bought almost a kilo (€26 ouch). Then I come back and find that your recipe only calls for 125g or something… oops :s

      1. I’m so happy to learn you are going to make my cake! Keep it in the tightly closed jar (no need to freeze as some bloggers do, I have kept mine for two years at least before using). I guess you will make a huge cake 😉 Actually my recipe is half of the usual birthday cake size, so you can easily double all the ingredients! Maybe I should find some other poppy recipes to give you some ideas of how to use your poppy seeds 😉 On the other hand I have always hated all the other poppy cakes I knew… Good luck and let me know if you have any questions/problems!

        1. Thanks Sissi – I was a bit premature in my buying of it though. I have a lot of “cake events” coming up very soon so for my own health I’ll need to wait until the new year before I make it. I might play about a bit with poppy seeds… and of course, I can always use them in bread!

          1. Charles, in the meantime I have found two very interesting poppy cake ideas (I have never tried them but they look delicious). I will certainly post them (if they taste good). Oh, yes, I love poppy seeds sprinkled on bread or rolls!

  3. Sissi, the ingredients in this recipe are positively swoon-worthy. I love everything about your confit! The onion and fig alone is a delicious combination but mix in a little ruby port wine and, Oh My, you pretty much have heaven!! You know I’ve not done a lot of preserving, but I think I may have to get this one in before the bell (the bell being December 25th) my husband would ADORE this as a holiday treat. Yummmm….

    1. Hi Kelly. Thank you for all the compliments. Most of the people I know like this confit version, so there are big chances your husband likes it too. Good luck!

  4. I have never tried onion confit, sounds absolutely delicious. The initial stage of preparation is similar to preparing onion soup. I will attempt this in the near future.

    I used to think confit means to cook in fat on low heat for a long time but I checked online and thats not necessarily the case. Another thing new I learnt today.

    This is a French dish so I guess its better to use a French soy sauce:)

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. Haha! It’s once more my soy sauce touch… I can’t help it. I put it everywhere. When I start using it in sweet recipes, please remember to tell me I’m becoming crazy!

        1. Please, don’t tempt me… Too late, I already have a very precise idea of this caramel. (And I love caramel with salted butter!).

  5. Your blog really opens my eyes! I’ve never heard of Onion Confit, not to say my local grocery store do not carry them, maybe I just never knew to look… One thing is for sure, if we ever meet one day, I would be begging you for jars and jars of your lovely preserves!

    1. I am so flattered! Thank you for the compliments, Jeno! If we ever meet I will bring you lots of jars, promise!

  6. Oh this is wonderful and reminds me that I still have some cooking port. Glad to see you featured on another blog, much deserved.

    1. Thank you so much, Greg. The port I use here is used only for cooking (even though it’s not the cheapest I think).

  7. I am pretty positive that your pantry for preserves is bigger than any sections in your kitchen. This year I’ve learned so much about preserves mostly from your lovely blog. Until this year, preserves only means “jams” in the supermarket… yeah I’m pretty deprived in this section of cooking. Are you famous among your friends that you are “preserve” specialist in blogosphere? 🙂

    1. Nami, you are so kind and sweet…. Thank you for the compliments. My pantry is not in the kitchen… There is a small separate room and the space taken by jars gets bigger and bigger… Since not a single one of my friends makes preserves, and since I give them jars from time to time, I suppose they do I make lots of them, but I wouldn’t say they call me a specialist 🙂

  8. This sounds really good even though I’ve never tried confit in my life, I can imagine that this would taste great together with duck dishes. Ever since I knew about the gorgeous German roasted duck, I always think that Christmas=roasted duck with red cabbage and potato dumplings ;-). I’m sure my MIL will serve this dish again for Xmas. I should try to find time to make this confit 🙂 . Would it be OK if I omit the figs because I don’t know where to get them here ( or maybe I’ve just never noticed them, because I never cook with figs ;-)).

    1. Thank you so much, CG. I think it would be perfect with duck. Do omit the figs of course! Especially since you never cook with figs, you might not like them (they have this small grains that some people hate). I sometimes make this confit without figs and without port. The basic ingredients (vinegar, sugar, onions, salt, pepper) are creating the special taste and texture. The rest depends on what one likes. Let me know if you need any help! Good luck!

  9. What can I say, Sissi. When it comes to preserves, pickling, and other delicious sauces, you are the authority as far as I am concern. I will go through your site and will post your jars of goodies on my fb page. Well, I hope it’s okay with you.

    Have a great week, Sissi!

    ~ ray ~

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Ray. I’m really flattered. Of course, you can post my jars on you fb page. It’s so kind of you!

  10. Dear Sissi,

    I think one of the key advantages of preparing these confit yourself is that you can experiment with ingredients that you like and tweet the recipe to your liking as opposed to buying expensive ones in the shops.

    I am generally not a fan of products promoted or prepared by celebrity chefs because quite often, I feel experimenting with recipes can achieve similar results and you get to have a bit of fun in the kitchen as well.

    1. You are absolutely right. In fact, the very expensive confits in elegant delis are for example much too sweet for me. When I make my own, not only it costs me nothing, but I add more vinegar…

  11. Sissi, I absolute love this! There will be no need for canning as I’ll find numerous was to use this up in a few days! Truly this is a fabulous recipe; the combination of figs and port sounds lovely. I can’t wait to try this!!

    1. Thank you so much, Linda. It’s true: if you use it up in two weeks, there is no need to can. Let me know if you try making it!

  12. Hi,
    I’m a reader in the US and I did a general conversion of the recipe. It turned out fabulous! I used bacon fat instead of oil. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Amy, thank you very much for this kind message. I am glad you liked the recipe and I’m sure bacon fat was much much better than oil.

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