Tag Archives | cranberries

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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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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Pear Cranberry Jam

pear cranberry jam

It is no secret that pears are one of my great loves of the fruit world. They have a delicate, flexible flavor that goes well with nearly anything (including vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and lavender). They work in fruit butters, jams, and chutneys. Many varieties don’t need to be peeled before cooking. And if you’ve never tried one, you should know that a pickled pear are one of life’s true delights.

chopped pears

Knowing my general appreciation for all things pear, it should surprise no one that a couple weeks back, I matched them up with a bunch of cranberries, to see how the two would jam together. Well, the results are in. Pears and cranberries make a very good team.

pears and cranberries

One of the things I like about making jams with cranberries is the fact that since they contain so much natural pectin, you’re able to dial back the sugar more so than with other fruits and still expect to develop a very nice set during cooking.

My normal ratio for jam is two parts fruit to one part sugar. You’ll notice that in this recipe, I shaved off a full cup of sugar and still wound up with a gorgeously set, plenty sweet jam.

adding lemon

Like so many of the jams I make, I kept this go-round fairly unadorned. It was just pears, cranberries, sugar, and the zest and juice of one little lemon. I like to keep the first pass simple, to ensure that the primary players work well together before I muck around with secondary layers.

Happy with the basic version, chances are good that I’ll come back to this formula again and tweak it with some ginger, or a few warm winter spices. You are welcome to add a pinch of this or that on your first pass, should you so desire.

182/365

Though I missed the obvious Thanksgiving window for this jam, I have a hunch that it still has many opportunities to shine before the year is out. I’m confident it will pair up nicely with a plateful of latkes in place the the traditional applesauce (Hanukkah starts in just over a week!). I know for a fact it is dreamy with a smear of fresh goat cheese. And as you head into the holiday baking season, consider filling a thumbprint cookie with a dab of this sweet-tart spread.

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