Cranberries…A Thanksgiving Rite of Passage
Cranberries. It’s a New England thing, right?Cranberries were a Native American food that was harvested for use in foods and drinks. Cranberries started to get some early commercial attention beginning as early as 1816 when a veteran of the Revolutionary war, a certain Captain Henry Hall discovered cranberries growing on Cape Cod. On a grand international scale, Ocean Spray put cranberries in a can beginning in 1930 and the rest is history.
When Fall rolls around and I start thinking about the holidays, cranberries come to mind because they are so versatile in cooking. Of course, cranberry sauce is an American darling and no seriously delectable Thanksgiving dinner would be without it. Making your own cranberry sauce is a cinch. Get a bag and throw it in a pot. Add sugar to taste and cook until those berries begin to pop and glisten.
There are so many variations to the sauce too; some like to grind the berries, add orange zest and spices and use it as a raw sauce. Last year, I cooked the cranberries with some fresh apple cider, ground cloves and cinnamon and added diced pears and apples. One year I combined the cranberry sauce with homemade applesauce. Leftover cranberry sauce has many uses too; add it to muffin mix, cake mix, add it to an apple pie filling, top plain yogurt with it, mix it with granola, top oatmeal and use it as a side for pork chops too.
As the saying goes “there are four unbroken rules when it comes to Thanksgiving: there must be turkey and dressing, cranberries, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.” (Down Home (1993)
Razzle Dazzle Cranberry Applesauce
Makes 4 Half pints
6 cups cranberries (one bag), rinsed
6 large Cortland or Northern Spy apples, cored and cut into chunks
½ cup apple cider
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
Place the cranberries, apples and cider in a large pot; cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cook until apples are soft.
Transfer to a food processor or use an immersion blender to smooth the sauce.
Transfer to a bowl and stir in the sugar, cinnamon and cloves.
If you like more sweetness, add more sugar.
Refrigerate until ready to use. It will keep for 2 weeks. Or spoon it into glass jars or freezer bags and freeze.