Recipes: Then and Now

Recipes from the past updated for today

Post #18 Cranberries

November 15, 2014

This recipe makes a sauce that would be very recognizable to the early native tribes of the New England area. They taught it to the settlers and we have been enjoying it ever since. The only difference would be the kind of sugar used. We use refined white sugar, which was rare in those days. In early colonial times maple sugar or honey would have been the sweeteners available. It is a very old recipe, indeed.

The American Cranberry produces a larger berry than the wild cranberry or the European variety. This hardy American variety is now grown in many parts of the world. Interestingly, it arrived in Holland because of a shipwreck. When an American ship loaded with crates filled with cranberries sank along the Dutch coast, many crates washed ashore on the small island of Terschelling. Some of the berries took root, and cranberries have been cultivated there ever since. The cranberry harvest begins shortly after Labor Day and extends through October. The fresh berries are available from October through to the end of December. The berries should be firm, plump and quite glossy. It's that high luster that indicates ripeness not the color. The color indicates how much sunshine the individual berry received during ripening. Store them, unwashed, in the unopened 12-ounce plastic bags that are typically sold this time of year. They can be refrigerated for up to 2 months or frozen for up to a year. Cranberries freeze very well, so grab an extra to drop into the freezer to save for a special meal sometime next spring or summer. One 12-ounce bag of cranberries is equal to 3 cups of whole berries or 2 1/2 cups chopped.

I have been making this kind of Cranberry Sauce for years. It is the real thing with the skins and seeds included, not much like the canned jellied sort I have trouble getting out of the can intact. If you do want it to be more like that just reduce the amount of water and when cooked press it through a sieve to remove the skins and seeds. Pour into a mold and chill till firm enough to remove from the mold. If you want to reduce the sugar content simply omit the sugar and cook as directed, then when cool, stir in artificial sweetener to taste.

Cranberry Sauce

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

3 cups cranberries, one 12 ounce bag

Pick over the berries and discard any that are bad and rinse well. In a saucepan bring the water, cranberries and sugar to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until all skins pop, about five to ten minutes. Allow to cool and refrigerate.

This is a recipe similar to what I remember my mother making for Holiday meals. I didn’t care for it then; I was a very picky eater as a kid. Thank goodness tastes change as we grow up.

Cranberry Orange Relish

1 medium orange

3 cups cranberries, one 12 ounce bag

1 to 1 ½ cups sugar

Peel off the colored part of the rind of the orange with a vegetable peeler and place it in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Discard the white pithy part of the peel. Add the pulp of the orange and the cranberries. Process the cranberries pulsing the food processor just enough to chop the berries and peel to a relish size and consistency you like, but be careful not to over do it and end up with a puree. You can also do this the old fashioned way by putting the ingredients through a meat grinder. Then transfer to a bowl that has a cover and stir in the sugar to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least several hours or up to two days for the flavors to blend. This relish also freezes well.