November 20, 2009

In Honor of the Cranberry

In Honor of the Cranberry

By Kate Daneluk

As a native New Jersian, perhaps the cranberry, one of our major agricultural products, is more important to me than the average American.  But I believe that my love for the seasonal little gems is based on the nutritional and rich, tangy goodness over regional loyalty.  The announcement of the cranberry as a superfood, ridiculously rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants has increased the berries profile.  We now find craisins and juice rising in consumption.  Even so, I dare say many Americans consume cranberries once or twice a year, jellied in a can.  I challenge you all now to explore the seasonal goodness of the cranberry, fresh and whole, the way God made it.

When the fresh berries hit the stand, I grab one for the freezer and one for the fridge.  Unlike typical berries, you will need to treat and cook these to make them palatable.  We do it for meat, onions, garlic, artichokes.  We can do it for the cranberry!

What to do with fresh cranberries?

Throw a handful in any fruit pie.  Especially complimentary to pears and apples.  They’ll cook and sweeten right in the pie.

Add a handful to homemade applesauce at the beginning of cook time for a pretty, pink sauce.  You may need a little extra sugar.

Homemade cranberry sauce is fresher and brighter tasting than any can.

HOMEMADE CRANBERRY SAUCE

  • 2 C cranberries (picked over and rinsed)
  • ½ C water
  • 1 C sugar
  • pinch of salt

Boil on the stove for 8 – 12 minutes.  The more you boil, the more jelly-like consistency.  Pour into serving dish and cool.

Substitute Orange Juice for water and add orange zest for a sweeter and fun variation.

½ C honey with 2 T of corn syrup may be substituted for the sugar.

Add a 2T of Worcestershire Sauce and an extra ½ C water for a ham glaze.

What to do with leftover homemade cranberry sauce?

Add 2 T to a simple pan sauce for pork chops, chicken, or meaty fish (like salmon or sword fish)

Cut the mayo.  Use as a sandwich spread for chicken salad, turkey and ham sandwiches.

Make a cranberry BBQ sauce for ribs, chicken, turkey, etc.

CRANBERRY BBQ SAUCE

  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 T butter (or oil)
  • 2 T Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 C homemade Cranberry or Cranberry Orange Sauce
  • 1/3 C apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • cayenne to taste

Finely dice and sauté onion and garlic in butter until soft.  Add cranberry sauce, Worcestershire Sauce and apple cider vinegar.  Boil gently until thick, 4-7 minutes.  Add spices and cook another minute.  Careful when tasting: HOT SUGAR is HOT!

***Photo by CC Chapman***