There is one item I cannot be without at Thanksgiving and that is cranberries. A few years ago I started making my own relish and that has only made my dedication to the little red berry more intense. And it must have been a good year for cranberries because they are inexpensive right now. I have 5 bags in my freezer and two more to cook with this week. A little bit of cranberry heaven.
As a general rule, I like them pretty basic – berries, eyeball some orange juice and add sugar until I think it’s sweet enough, simmer until it’s reduced by 1/2 or more. I have found, and I don’t think it is my imagination, that the mixture gets more tart as it sits, so by the next day I’m adding more sugar. Eventually I’ll remember this and add enough sugar so it is just beyond the sweetness I like and then it should be perfect.
This year, in addition to my basic recipe, I tried two different recipes, to shake things up. The first is upping the orange flavor considerably:
- 16 oz bag of fresh cranberries, washed
- 1 orange, juice only
- 1 orange, peeled and cut into small pieces
- Orange zest from 1 orange, cut into thin strips
- 1/2 cup sugar
Put all the ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes or more in the refrigerator.
The next one was interesting. The apple really becomes the dominate flavor in this, so if you’re a die-hard cranberry fan, make this one in addition to a regular cranberry relish. It’s definitely tasty, but I would miss my true cranberry relish if I served only it.
- 16 oz bag fresh cranberries, washed
- 1/2 cup apple juice or water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 Gala apples, peeled, cored and diced
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add ingredients. Bring to a light boil, as soon as cranberries start popping, reduce heat to medium and let simmer until reduced by half or more to a thick sauce and apples are very tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more.
Cranberry Palooza isn’t over yet. Later I’ll repost my favorite dessert, the one I’ll be bringing this year, Cranberry Upside Down Cake. And those frozen cranberries are going to be turned into some Cranberry Apple Cobbler and maybe added to some chicken. It’s only the beginning. Until then…