Tag Archives: cranberry sauce

Things to Do With a Bag O’ Cranberries: Part 1

13 Jan

I try to stay away from sneaky Spend-More-to-Save-More campaigns.  I’m looking at you Kohl’s.  “It’s like getting paid to shop” my Hiney.  Sure, it sounds all innocent, but the thought process is, “I’m going to spend a Very Ton now to justify coming back next weekend to use my Special Free Money.”  I don’t know about you guys, but I very rarely go spend a Very Ton of money two weekends in a row.  But, once you have that Free Money you almost feel obligated to spend it the following weekend.  Then, you end up spending much more than you would have if you hadn’t gotten the Spending Incentive in the first place.”  Of course, the folks at Kohl’s and other stores that have the same sort of programs realize that a) a certain number of people will not come in within the time frame specified on the Free Money, and they won’t have to honor it and b) folks that do come in will buy more than they would have without the Free Money, so either way Kohl’s wins.  Sneaky.

That’s all well and good, until I get to the grocery store.  Then, ten boxes of pasta for ten bucks?  Sure–it’s not like we won’t get around to eating it eventually.  I recognize this double standard, but I can live with it.  So, a few weeks ago, I purchased four bags o’ cranberries for ten dollars.  This was a Very Good Deal, because often one bag can cost upwards of Three-Fiddy.  Again, I rationalized that it wasn’t like we weren’t going to eat them.  Only, sometimes it’s kind of hard to come up with Things To Do with that many cranberries.

And thus, this post.  To help out you Suckers for a Sale at the grocery store.  And to help myself, too.  I have four bags o’ berries, so there will be four posts in this Series.  Eventually.  Currently, three bags are safe and sound in the freezer, and this is what I did with Bag One:

homemade cranberry sauce

Mmmm, pretty! And very, very tasty.

Green Tea Cranberry Sauce
Trader Joe’s sells a wonderful cranberry green tea, and it was the inspiration for this sauce.

  • 1 bag o’ cranberries
  • sugar, to taste (I used demerara)
  • a cup or so of orange juice and a bit of water, depending on how thick you want your sauce
  • healthy pinch of salt
  • minced crystallized ginger, about a tablespoon or so.  No need to get carried away.
  • 2 green tea bags–I used Zen brand green tea with lemongrass.

Now, if there are any die-hard Tea Devotees out there, I know that you shouldn’t boil green tea.  And I don’t if I’m just making myself a cup.  I figured with the strong flavors of the cranberry and ginger going on that I wouldn’t notice any off flavors from the tea.  And I didn’t.  If you have a Particularly Sensitive Palate when it comes to tea, I think you could probably brew a concentrated batch and then add just a little to the finished sauce.

Anyway, here’s what I did.

I threw the cranberries in a small pan, added some sugar, orange juice, water, salt and minced crystallized ginger (yes, you could use powdered or even freshly grated–the finished product will taste different than mine, but since you haven’t had mine, it doesn’t matter).

I tied two tea bags to the pot handle and let them hang out in the pan.

homemade cranberry green tea sauce

Almost ready...

Then, I just brought everything to a slow boil and kept it there until the cranberries softened and popped open.  I helped them along by smashing them against the side of the pan, too.

Taste and add additional sugar or salt if it needs it.  Mine needed a bit more sugar, so I threw some more in.

And: Done!  I could have left well-enough alone and served it chunky, but I did hit it with the immersion blender to make a relatively smooth sauce.

homemade cranberry sauce

You can tell from the suspicious red smears and blobs all over the stove that I didn't stage this shot. Cooking is messy people. Deal with it.

To get it really smooth, I could have strained it through a sieve or used a food mill, but I wasn’t that concerned about making it extremely smooth, especially because I was going to serve it as a condiment to some roast chicken.

We ate it with the chicken, and it was very good, but we have a lot left over.  Here are some things that I may or may not do with the extra:

  1. Push it through a sieve to get it very smooth and fold it together with some whipped cream to make a simple mousse.
  2. Roberta said that I should use it as a cake filling.  An excellent idea, especially with chocolate cake.
  3. Mix some into softened ice cream and have it for dessert.
  4. Spread it on roast chicken sandwiches as a Condiment.
  5. Re-heat it, add more orange juice and/or water so it’s not quite as concentrated, and stabilize it with some gelatin to make homemade cranberry-orange Jell-o.
  6. Spread it out into thin sheets on Silpat and dry them in a very low oven to make cranberry fruit leather.

And that’s it.  One bag down and three to go.

If you have any good ideas, I’m all ears.

PS  I have just pretty much described one technique for making any sort of thick fruit sauce or puree, so just go for it.

Ooh, How Did You Get Those Ridges in the Sides of Your Cranberry Jelly? Ingenious!

23 Nov
Making cranberry sauce is easier than you think.

Making cranberry sauce is easier than you think.

You know what’s worse than a can of cranberry jelly?  Cranberry jelly that still looks like the can when you take it out.  There is something profoundly wrong–or profoundly telling–about a side dish that makes a sucking sound as it is leaving the can.  I must admit that I grew up eating canned slices of cranberry jelly and being quite pleased with it, too.  But, when I was able to compare the fresh, bright flavor and color of homemade cranberry goodness with the dull red blandness of the canned kind, well, the scales fell from my eyes, and I became a convert to the Way of the Fresh Cranberry.

And, like any good zealot not content to hold her revelation private, I am here to convert you, as well.  Here are some ideas for making your own cranberry deliciousness.  None of these ideas are terribly time consuming, and all will make you ever-so-much happier than, try though it might, the can o’ cranberry ever could.

The basic idea:  cook cranberries with some sugar and other yummy flavors until the cranberries pop open and get juicy.

Specific ideas:  cranberries+sugar+orange juice+orange zest.  Cook, cool, stir in mandarin orange slices.

cranberries+sugar+apple chunks+lemon zest+crystallized ginger

cranberries+dried blueberries+golden raisins+sugar+a splash or two of apple juice+star anise

cranberries+apricots+sugar+lemon juice

cranberries+dried cherried+apple chunks+splash of Amaretto

Anyway, I think you get the idea.   If you want your cranberries chunky, leave them as is.  If you want it a little smoother, you can use an immersion blender to take them to the consistency you like best.  Feel free to experiment with your own creations.

I hope I have inspired you to branch out from the can o’ cranberry sauce and venture forth into the new, exciting and extremely tasty world of fresh cranberry sauce.

Please feel free to weigh in with your thoughts or with other ideas in the Comments section.

I have fun (to me, anyway) Pastry Polls at my site.  Right now, I change them once a month.  If enough people come and vote, I might change them once a week.  Come have a look!

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