Friday, November 5, 2010

Gelled Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Chutney

It's that time of year - cranberries are everywhere you look.  And, don't get me wrong, it's just not Thanksgiving without those little can ridges and perfect circles of gel on a plate.  (Heck, I bought a six pack).  But this year I decided to play with some fresh cranberries and see if we liked them.  Sam's had huge bags, so I picked one up and set out to test some recipes.  These are the winners.

Apple-Cranberry Chutney

If you haven't tried Trader Joe's Cranberry Apple Chutney, you're seriously missing out.  It's a sweet, tart, spice-laden condiment that will kick your Thanksgiving taste buds into gear.

Here's how this worked...

3 cups of fresh cranberries
3 cups of peeled, diced apples (I used honeycrisps and granny smith that were too bruised for my kids to possibly eat)
1 cups of sugar
1 1/3 cups of apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp good cinnamon (I like Penzey's vietnamese)
1/2 tsp ground ginger (dried stuff, not fresh this time, though I'll have to try fresh and see if it is noticeably different)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (okay, powdered is sufficient but really - you should be grating whole nutmeg because the flavor changes after it's grated for a while) A pack of whole nutmegs will last you a couple of years and they don't lose their potency when whole.  I have a nice little nutmeg house with a microplane attached inside like this.

Dump it all in a heavy bottomed stainless steel pot.  (The BEST stock pot ever - not too big, not too small, steams veggies, drains pasta, all in all great pot.  I've had it for years and we use it 3-5 times a week.)

This isn't a baking recipe, order doesn't really matter.

Stir occasionally to make sure the sugar is getting mixed in and not burning on the bottom of your pan.  Also, I realized that cranberries are loaded with pectin, the stuff that makes jelly and jam stick together.  As they burst, they will sort of fall to the bottom and can get goopy down there.  Don't worry if that happens, it mixes right back in.  (not that I know from experience or anything)

This needs to simmer for about 25 minutes.  It will thicken, reduce, and all the cranberries will pop.  You can encourage them by smooshing them against the side of the pot.  Your house will smell like heavenly fall goodness at this point (and yes, the vinegar smells STRONG in the beginning, but trust me. It's right.  And it mellows out.)

When it's done, it will be thick, almost the consistency of applesauce.  I canned mine.  You could make it as a side for Thanksgiving, but you may want to also offer regular cranberry sauce in case people are not into the intensity of a chutney.


Gelled Cranberry Sauce

I used straight-mouthed canning jars in the hopes that I can just pour it onto a plate and slice it into familiar rounds.  I'll let you know how that works out.

3 cups of fresh cranberries
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of orange juice (mine came from a jug - yep - I'm owning it!)
1 cup of water.

Dump into that pot I mentioned above and Boil.  Boil.  Boil.  Okay, you might actually want to simmer. And remember, scrape the bottom once in a while because it does get goopy down there from all that pectin.

It took about 15 minutes to get all the cranberries to pop and for the liquid to cook down.

Pour into a mesh strainer inserted in a glass bowl.  I used a spoonula to mash the cranberries through the sieve.  This takes a while and is an excellent upper arm workout.  Just keep smashing them with the back of a spatula/scraper/spoon until you have a mushy pile of skins left on top and gorgeous, bright red cranberry sauce on bottom.

This yielded about one good-sized jar.  I doubled it for my family's cranberry needs and I plan to make more this weekend.  It's that good.  The flavor is vibrant and the color is so bright, it looks artificially colored.  Truly delicious.

Hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!

1 comment:

  1. the apple cranberry chutney sounds delicious...i'm gonna give that one a go! i do like making my own cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, so this is right up my alley!