Spiced Cranberry Shrub + Tangy Cranberry Applesauce

cranberries

Yikes. It’s been a whole lot of sale, sponsorship, and giveaway posts around here lately, hasn’t it. Let’s get back to the pickles and preserves, shall we?

I know most people see Thanksgiving as the high point of the cranberry season, but I keep buying and using them until the last bag disappears from store shelves. I also always stash a few bags in the freezer for those moments in February when I must have some cranberry bread.

adding sugar to cranberries

Last week, inspired the last drops of liquid left over from a batch of pickled cranberries, I devised a quick cranberry shrub. It is just a combination of cranberries, apple cider vinegar, a little water (since cranberries are so dry, they don’t add any moisture to the party), sugar, and spices. You simmer it all together until the cranberries pop.

spices into cranberries

Once the contents of your saucepan have had a chance to cool (and steep just a bit more), you position a strainer over a large bowl or measuring cup and run the contents of the pot through it. You end up with a very tasty, tart syrup and a sticky mound of berries and whole spices.

spiced cranberry shrub

I like to dip a few spoonfuls of the shrub into a wide mouth quart jar and then fill it all the way up with fizzy water. The sharpness of the vinegar carries the flavor of the berries better than a syrup made without any additional acid and so it takes very little to brighten up a water or your favorite cocktail (I have it on very good authority that 3/4oz cranberry shrub + 1oz whiskey + 3oz champagne makes for a deliciously celebratory adult beverage).

open cranberry shrub

If you choose to make this, I highly suggest that you take those sticky solids and push them through a food mill or fine mesh sieve. You’ll end up with a highly spiced cranberry paste. You could serve it just as it is with some cheddar cheese (packed into a little ramekin) or you could do like I did and stir it into a batch of freshly made applesauce. It adds gorgeous color to the sauce and would be awfully good with a batch of freshly fried latkes (which starts on December 16).

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December Sponsors: Cuppow, Spice Ratchet, Fillmore Container, MightyNest, and More!

fermentools lid

It’s December 2nd and that means that it’s time to dedicate a blog post to the sponsors who help make this site possible. Please do take a moment to read this post and if they offer something that appeals, I know they would appreciate your business.

First up is jar accessory maker Cuppow! They are the creator of the original mason jar travel mug topper and the BNTO, a small plastic cup that transforms a canning jar into a snack or lunch box. Their Cyber Monday sale ends tonight, so if you’ve had your eye on one of their products, make sure to submit your order today.

Next up is Spice Ratchet. They make the blossom trivet that I use as a canning rack, and just recently, they released a line of silicone Blossom uCaps for mason jars. They are available as a storage cap, a sipping cap, and a flower frog. I’m currently giving away some of their fabulous trivets and you can enter here.

Our friends at Fillmore Container are back as well. They sell all manner of canning jars and lids, as well as a handful of books and jar accessories. They’re a family-owned business based in Lancaster, PA and they happily work with home canners and commercial producers alike. Make sure to check out all the fun programming they’ve lined up for their booth in the Pennsylvania Farm Show in January.

The fab folks at MightyNest are another December sponsor. They are an amazing resource for non-toxic, natural, and organic products for homes and families and recently added my beloved 4th Burner Pot to their stock. Don’t miss all their special blogger gift sets, including the Preservationist Kit which features my latest book!

Mrs. Wages is also back for another month of canning goodness! I’ve written for them for the last three summers and this year, we’re teaming up for an official partnership. They make all sorts of pectins and canning mixes. Make sure to sign up for their newsletter for monthly installments of canning goodness.

Next up is Fermentools. They make a brilliant fermentation starter kit that involves a heavy-duty glass pickling weight, an airlock, a lid with a reusable rubber seal, and mineral-rich salt. The pickles I made using their kit turned out deliciously!

Last on the list is The Vintage Pearl. They make beautiful, hand stamped jewelry and are offering all Food in Jars readers $15 off a purchase of $75. Just use the code “FIJ15.”

If your company or small business is interested in becoming a sponsor, you can find more details here. I offer discounts for multiple month purchases and am always happy to work with your budget.

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Giveaway: Blossom Trivets from Spice Ratchet

black blossom trivet

Sometimes the best pieces of canning gear were never actually intended for use in food preservation. Case in point? The blossom trivet! It’s the best, most flexible canning rack I’ve found in my travels (and believe me, I go through life looking at kitchenware to see if I can somehow use it my canning flow).

red blossom trivet

I like to use these trivets as canning racks because they are heatproof, flexible, and never break down in the water like metal racks can do. You can take them apart, use them as one long strip, or you can button two together to make a rack for a larger pot.

pot on black trivet

I have heard from some people that they sometimes struggle to get their blossom trivets to lay flat in the pot when the water is at a rolling boil. The trick for that is that you turn the heat off or slide the pot off the hot burner for just a moment. That will calm the boil and give you a chance to lay the trivet back into place (a jar lifter does the job nicely). Then put the first full jar in on top of the now-flat trivet and it will stay in place. Problem solved!

pot and trivet

This week’s giveaway comes to us from Spice Ratchet. They are the makers of the blossom trivet (along with these nifty blossom jar toppers) and are regular Food in Jars sponsors. They’ve offered up four sets of trivets to my readers for the giveaway. Each set will include two red trivets and one translucent red trivet. You’ll be all set for canning season 2015! Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what your favorite preserve from 2014 has been.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, December 6, 2014. The winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog by Sunday, December 7, 2014.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents only (so sorry, further-flung readers).
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.

Disclosure: Spice Ratchet is a Food in Jars sponsor and helps make this site possible. 

Big Cyber Monday Sale at Cuppow

cuppow sale!

Attention canning jar fans, do I have a sale for you! The folks at Cuppow have put their entire stock on sale. If you want to pick up some lids, BNTO adapters, CoffeeSocks, Mason Taps, or any thing else jar-related (the price on the Mason Shaker is pretty darn great), do it now while everything is 25% off. You don’t need a coupon code, prices are automatically adjusted to reflect the lower prices.

The sale started yesterday and runs through Tuesday, December 2.

Make sure to check out the gift pack options as well, because they’ve got some good ones, like the Perk Me Up! (a full pour over coffee set-up for your favorite caffeine addict). Oh, and they still have a few signed copies of Preserving by the Pint. I hear those make excellent gifts.

Finally, do remember that Cuppow gives 5% of all profits to charity, so the more you buy, the more they give to organizations like Cradles to Crayons and Team Rubicon.

(Disclosure: Cuppow is a loyal Food in Jars sponsor. However, I’m writing this blog post because I think they make an awesome product and I wanted to make sure that you guys didn’t miss out on this deal.)

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Giveaway: The Preservationist Gift Set from MightyNest

FIJset 640

I hope everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving yesterday! As today marks the traditional beginning of the holiday shopping season, I’m sharing some very fun gift ideas from our friends at MightyNest. They’ve teamed up with four cookbook authors/bloggers to create gift-ready kits for your favorite people.

There’s a Blender Girl set (for your juice and smoothie fans), the Traditionalist set from Jenny at Nourished Kitchen, a Real Foodie set filled with Lisa Leake’s favorites, and the Preservationist set, which includes the 4th burner pot, a case of mini tulip Weck jars, and a copy of Preserving by the Pint.

mightynest image

The Preservationist set costs just $85.90 and would make a really good gift for someone who wanted to get started with small batch preserving! Another great thing about buying from MightyNest this weekend is that they are giving back 20% of your entire to the school of your choice through Monday, December 1. That means that if you buy the Preservationist set, $17 will go back to whichever school you select.

preservationist set image

And because no Black Friday is complete without a giveaway, the folks at MightyNest have given me one of the Preservationist kits to give away to a Food in Jars reader. Just click on the pledge below to entire. Happy shopping!

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Cranberries for Thanksgiving and Beyond

bag of cranberries

I realize that Thanksgiving is mere moments away, but I thought I’d do a quick round-up of my personal cranberry-centric writing, just in case anyone was still searching for a new jam, chutney, or sauce for this year. Additionally, while these preserves are most traditional on the fourth Thursday in November, they also make good accents (and gifts!) throughout the holiday season.

cranberry apple jam

First up are my cranberry-based jams. These spreads can be served on Thanksgiving morning on a toasted scone, or with the turkey later that day. Because cranberries have so much natural pectin, these jams make an excellent filling in thumbprint cookies because they won’t get runny during baking.

molded cranberry sauce

Now for sauces and marmalades. These tend to be a little less sweet than the jams above, but just as delicious

pickled cranberries

The rest of these cranberry items resist being grouped into a single category. There’s my pickled cranberries, which may well be my favorite cranberry preserve ever and pair up best with dark meat. A couple years back, I wrote a piece for Grid Philly that featured cranberries, and the oven-roasted butternut squash and cranberry dish in that article is one I love.

If you prefer cranberries in quick breads, these mini-loaves will please you (of course, they can also be baked in a muffin tin or even a conventional loaf pan).

cranberry clafoutis

Another delicious cranberry treatment is this clafoutis from Yvette Van Boven’s book, Home Made Winter. It works for dessert, or on a brunch buffet.

Finally, I’ve got two Thanksgiving suggestions that don’t involve cranberries, but are so good they require shout-outs. The first is the lentil pate from Kim O’Donnel’s book The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations. It hits all the flavor notes that a batch chopped liver does, but without necessitating that you actually deal with liver.

The second suggestion is the sweet potato puree that I wrote about for Table Matters two years ago. The recipe is adapted from one that Heidi Swanson posted back in 2006 and has been a favorite of mine since I first spotted it.

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