Did you have cranberries with your Thanksgiving feast? About twenty percent of all cranberries sold annually are purchased over the Thanksgiving holiday. That bright red berry is what the food industry calls a “special occasion food.”
This year, visiting my son, there was a fresh, homemade cranberry relish, brought by a friend, on the table—a bit tart but good. There was also canned, sliced, jellied cranberry sauce—both my daughters-in-law love it. Those two dishes spoke of what I see as two different food philosophies!
For me, cranberry relish at the holidays should be the way my mom fixed it—well, really it was my dad who made it. Making cranberry relish was a ritual in our household before the days of food processors. Dad hauled out the old hand grinder, fastened it to a short worn stepladder—I can see that chipped green paint in my mind yet—and began to grind, a chore he did because, he said, it took too much strength for Mom to do it. I think they both enjoyed the shared work.
Thanks to his effort, a bag of cranberries, washed and sorted, an orange, peel and all, a sweet apple like a Red Delicious, also unpeeled, went into a bowl. Mom added sugar sparingly, getting it just right because we didn’t want it too tart or too sweet. You can find precise recipesfor raw cranberry relish should you need them on the internet, I’d suggest you use less sugar than recommended and then taste, sweetening to your personal palate.
Some people use honey instead of sugar. Others add a small can of crushed pineapple or some chopped pecans. It’s a flexible dish, that cranberry relish.[
The thing about cranberries is that they are an overlooked health food, as good for you as blueberries. They are naturally low in sugar, though they require sweetening to be palatable; they are rich in antioxidants which promote cardiovascular health. Cranberry juice is often recommended for treatment of urinary tract infections.
When you think of cranberries at the holidays, you probably think of fresh berries—they only seem to appear in markets in November and December. Truth is only five percent of cranberries are sold fresh—most are processed into juice, that abominable canned relish, or craisins—those delightful substitutes for raisins which are great in everything from salads to oatmeal.
Thanks to a neighbor, I discovered a new cranberry recipe this past Thanksgiving. Easy and quick, it’s officially called crustless cranberry pie. To me, it’s like cake and great for dessert—but shh! Don’t tell. I’ve been eating cake for breakfast.
Crustless cranberry pie
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups cranberries
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I’m not always a fan of nuts, and I left them out)
½ cup butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. almond extract
Pre-heat oven to 350o. Grease 9-inch pie pan.
Combine flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in cranberries and nuts; toss to coat. Stir in butter, beaten eggs, and almond extract. Spread batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 350o for 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.