I think that cranberries are one of the best things about this time of year. They appear on the scene as fresh fruit at just the right time. All the color outside has just about disappeared and everything is looking very “gray”. That probably won’t last long as we have a forecast for snow starting tomorrow. (I so hope the forecasters are wrong!) Anyway, cranberries show up with their perfect red color and suddenly things are looking up.
At one time way back when, I was very neutral toward cranberries. Like, “Oh, yeah, cranberry sauce with turkey..that’s nice”; and that’s all I thought they were good for. But now-a-days, because they freeze so easily, we can cook and bake with the little jewels all year long. But somehow they seem most welcome in the fall and through the Holidays. I really think it’s because of their wonderful color when everything else around us is so drab. They’re bright and cheerful, make you smile, and they’re a very flattering shade of red.
Now their flavor is something else!! Most people are scared of a cranberry. My goodness, how do you sweeten it up? Try eating just one…..raw. That little baby has major pucker power. They are so tart they make an average lemon seem like a wimp. But you know, that’s really the best part. Cranberries provide a contrast. Think about your favorite foods, aren’t there contrasts involved? Savory against sweet; sweet decadent desserts with a little salt; a crunchy topping on a smooth custardy base; and cranberries—all twisted up with something sweet really get to shine.
Well cranberry sauce is like that. A contrast in and all by itself. It’s sweet, but it’s tart. It can be smooth and jellied, or chunky and rough. It’s satisfying and flavorful on its own, and it gets even better when other fruits are added to it. Citrus fruits pair with cranberries very well, especially oranges, so I add some zest and some juice. I also add some lime, the zest and juice, to deepen that layer of citrus you detect. Making my own fresh cranberry sauce is so fun and this recipe can be dressed up with additional fruits like chopped apples, or pears and some raisins to turn it into a chutney. Think of it as a garnish to go with whatever you may be serving and have some fun with it. Cranberry with pineapple and ham, anyone?
WHOLE CRANBERRY SAUCE
Yield: about 12 servings, or 3 cups
- 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
- 2 cups granulated sugar ( I use about 1 3/4 cups, as we like it less sweet)
- 1 tsp. grated orange peel
- 1 tsp. grated lime peel
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup water
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes until the berries pop.
Skim off any large amount of foam that may form on the surface. Allow to cool to room temperature.
2. This sauce will thicken nicely as it cools because of the high level of pectin in the cranberries. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container. Serve with chicken or turkey, or any other entree of your choice.