The tart and tangy flavor of cranberries provides a festive counterpoint to the rich and savory turkey, stuffing and gravy. Their glossy and glorious redness brightens an otherwise rather brown-hued menu.
Perhaps your Thanksgiving memories like mine include a special plate with slices of canned, pureed cranberries. I totally loved them and often asked to be the one to remove and then slice that cylinder straight from the Ocean Spray can. Just goes to show what an indispensable part cranberries play in the traditional Thanksgiving feast. A part they have played since the Pilgrim’s first harvest festivals. Those first cranberries came from the Native Americans who sweetened them with a little honey or maple syrup.
Cranberries can still be found growing wild as a shrub just like their blueberry cousins. Cultivated cranberries, though, are grown on low trailing vines in great sandy bogs which are flooded for harvesting. The air pocket in the center of each berry allows them to float to the surface transforming the bogs into a most beautiful sea of red.
In Season from October through December
Fresh cranberries also freeze really well, so having an extra bag or two in the freezer makes it easy to add them to muffins, quick breads, applesauce or apple crisp throughout the year.
Triple-Delish Cranberry Sauce includes cranberries three ways: fresh, dried and juiced. Along with fresh orange juice, zest and marmalade this sauce sparkles with color, taste and nutrition. Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, and a “natural probiotic” to help digest the foods we eat along with them.
This is the recipe for my favorite cranberry sauce–chunky with fruit, intensely flavored and wonderfully delicious–it goes so well with all the flavors on the holiday plate. Or, try it as a luscious topping on baked brie, a condiment on sandwiches and wraps, or as a warm sauce on yoghurt or ice cream.
Yield: 2 ½ cups
1 12-oz package fresh cranberries
1 6-oz can frozen cranberry-apple juice concentrate, defrosted
¼ cup honey
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons fruit-sweetened orange marmalade
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 cup fruit-sweetened dried cranberries (about 4 ounces)
Rinse, drain and pick through the fresh cranberries, discarding any that are bruised or spoiled.
In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, combine the cranberry juice concentrate and honey. When the mixture comes to a boil, stir in the remaining ingredients. Cook over medium heat for about 7 minutes until about half of the fresh berries have popped. Remove from the pan from the heat. The sauce thickens as it cools. Triple-Delish Cranberry Sauce can be prepared a week or more in advance, and stored in the refrigerator.