Cranberries Two Ways

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seeing red

Stocking the Pantry & Filling up the Holiday Table

BY AMY PENNINGTON

By now, we know that the Pacific Northwest is an absolute cornucopia of farm fresh produce, so when I stumble on a new fruit or vegetable at the farmers market, it’s a thrilling occasion. Last year I stopped in my tracks when I passed an unadorned table at the Broadway Farmers Market simply piled with big wooden boxes and a small bowl of cranberries. (If you miss the short late fall window for farm-direct berries, many of the common Ocean Spray bags are grown and packed in Washington.)

Cranberries are high-acid fruits and grow on vines in marsh-like conditions or bogs.  Although their acidity and tartness often gives cranberries a bad name, with a little sweetening they offer a palate-cleansing acid perfect for a holiday spread. Cranberries can be cooked down to a soft jam or quickly cooked and left with a crisp texture and bite. Either way you prepare them, cranberries are a short-season crop available only once a year, so it is best to stockpile and build up your reserves.

Toasted Pecan & Cranberry Relish
makes 4 half-pints | start to finish:  1 hour
from Edible Seattle November/December 2012

This recipe is a spin on the more traditional Thanksgiving side dish of cranberry sauce, embellished with the addition of toasted nuts. Cranberries and pecans are great together, but pistachios are equally delicious. Cranberries are quite tart (and I like them that way), but feel free to add more sugar to suit your tastes. This relish is wonderful used as jam, and even better when served as an appetizer alongside a delicate soft cheese like brie or camembert.

4 cups cranberries (about 1 ½ pounds), rinsed
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup currants or raisins
1 orange
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

In a large saucepan, combine the cranberries, water, sugar, and currants and set over medium heat. Zest the orange directly into the saucepan. Then, using a chef knife, remove all the remaining peel from the orange and chop the flesh roughly. Add the expelled juice and orange flesh to the pot. Cook the mixture for about 20 minutes, until the cranberries begin to pop and relish turns thick. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar, if you like. Add the toasted pecans and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached.

Fill clean jars with relish, leaving 1/2″ of head space. Using a damp, clean towel, wipe the rims of the jars, and top the jars with lids and rings. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Remove each jar with tongs and let cool on the counter.

washed jars • water bath
Apple Cranberry Salsa
makes 4 half-pints | start to finish:  1 hour
from Edible Seattle November/December 2012
This salsa is packed with spice and is a light appetizer that is perfect for starting a heavy wintertime meal. Serve with grilled crostini or homemade tortilla chips, or try some as a fresh garnish on roasted meats. While you can safely water bath can this recipe, you can also make it in advance and store it in the fridge for the Thanksgiving table.
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
2 apples, cored and chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds & ribs removed, diced
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
4 cups ( about 1 1/4 pounds) fresh whole cranberries, rinsed

In a large pot, add the onion, apples, jalapeno, water, vinegar, salt, sugar, and honey and place over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook for five minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add the cranberries and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, just until cranberries start to break down and the apples are cooked, but still firm.

Remove from heat and add salsa to clean jars. On a folded-over dish towel (for padding), strongly tap the bottom of the jar on the counter to help pack down the salsa, leaving 1/2″ of head space. Using a damp, clean towel, wipe the rims of the jars, and top the jars with lids and rings. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Remove each jar with tongs and let cool on the counter.

washed jars • water bath

Never done a home canning project? Read Amy’s Canning 101 instructions at edibleseattle.com

Amy Pennington is the author of Urban Pantry: Tips and Tricks for a Thrifty, Sustainable and Seasonal Kitchen and Apartment Gardening: Plants, Projects and Recipes for Growing Food in Your Urban Home. amy-pennington.com

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