I'm trying to carmelize onions at altitude and after almost 2 hours they will not brown. What is gong on?
How many onions? With what fat? In what size and type pan? At what heat? Did you salt them? What altitude?
Spread them out as thinly as you can, like in your widest skillet instead of a pot. It helps if the cookware is NOT non-stick. Sprinkle with a little sugar or brown sugar--you want enough to begin the caramelization, but not enough to turn the onions into candy, certainly no more than a teaspoon for each four cups of sauteed onion. Turn the heat up to medium-high and stir frequently.
3 cups of onions first in an enamel dutch oven then in an iron pan. Butter is the fat at a mile high
Part of caramelizing is reducing moisture in the onions. Try the following . . . increase heat. . .. add a bit of liquid to deglace the pan will bring up the browning colour after sauteing for awhile. . . sugar can help. . . bad quality onions exacerbate the problem. Just a few suggestions. I find cooking at altitude always a challenge. Takes lots of patience.
Caramelizing onions does take time. Even at sea level you have to allow 40 minutes with regular stirring. At higher altitudes like the Himalayas it can and should take longer. But the end product is worth it---especially for something like onion soup gratinee.
I think salt helps, too.
Ditto the pinch of salt - I think it helps draw out the moisture from the onions. Onions with a high sugar content will brown quickest and eliminate need for any added sugar. Also, avoid crowding the pan - being too full before the onions cook down will cause them to steam first, delaying caramelization.
One thing I've had success with lately is spreading my sliced onions out on sheet pans, tossed with salt and olive oil, and roasting them in the oven at about 350, stirring them occasionally. I think increasing the surface area helps to get the moisture out more quickly, browning them more evenly. You do have to watch them closely toward the end, though, as they can go from browned to burned in the blink of an eye.
I've found the best way in the world to caramelize onions is in a slow-cooker. Fill it with sliced onions, throw in a stick of butter and some salt, turn it on low and ignore it for 18 to 24 hours. I do five pounds at a time, package them in one-cup portions, and freeze them.