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11/23/10

Cranberries - Saucy Little Things

I love all things cranberryish. (remember the 90's Irish band The Cranberries and the song "Zombie"? That song still gives me the goosebumps)

Anyhoo, I'm glad they're [the fruit] popular and available most of the year now. I used to hoard them in the freezer. Yes, I was the maniac with twenty bags of cranberries in her cart every November, so I could make cranberry bread or sauce throughout the year.

Homemade cranberry sauce is ridiculously easy to make. Some water, some sugar, boil until the cranberries pop. I usually throw in additional things, whatever is handy - grapefruit peel, dried tart cherries or blueberries, (always have some around to jazz up the oatmeal) - whatever suits your fancy. There's no excuse for canned sauce (unless of course, that's what you like :)

I really love this cranberry walnut conserve recipe I heard on The Splendid Table and make it every year.
Obviously it's terrific on a turkey sandwich, with chicken or the other white meat [pork], but if you're a white trash girl such as myself, you'll love it just spooned on saltine crackers (just hush-up 'til you've tried it). Here's the recipe, in time for Turkey Day.

Cranberry-Walnut Conserve
 (from A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider)
1 1/2 cups walnuts
3 navel oranges, well washed
5 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2/3 cup wildflower honey, or more to taste
1 1/4 cups dark raisins or currants
A few teaspoons fresh lemon juice if needed to brighten flavors

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast until they are fragrant, about 9 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cut off the ends of the oranges and discard; slice the oranges in quarters through the stem. Then slice each quarter crosswise as thinly as possible, discarding the seeds as you work.
  3. In a heavy non-reactive 3 quart saucepan, combine 4 cups of the cranberries, the oranges, honey, and  1 1/2 cups hot water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened and the cranberries are soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in the raisins and the remaining cranberries and cook until the raisins are plump, another 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
  4. Chop the walnuts coarsely and stir them into the conserve, along with the lemon juice to taste. Transfer the conserve to clean dry jars and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate.
Storage: The conserve will keep for at least 1 month in a covered container in the refrigerator. 


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