Friday, December 2, 2011

Getting Saucy!

I don't know if I'm in the minority here, but my contact with the cranberry has always been in the opening of a can. I'm a cranberry fan, but I was a little daunted by the real deal. Last fall I saw some nice red berries in a quart basket at Reading Terminal Market and thought, "Wow, pretty, but what would someone do with these?"

This fall, I was surprised by a windfall of cranberries. A good friend had bought two bags to make a bread and only needed half of one. She (erroneously) assumed I'd know what to do with them since she didn't.

Of course, I took the berries. I mean, I told her I didn't know anything about making cranberry sauce, but she was just happy to find someone who'd do something with them. And so I was introduced to the cranberry. I washed them, picked out what I assumed were bad berries (I figured if they were black inside and smelled really funky--or if they were super squishy--that it would be a safe bet to toss them), and then followed my friend, Rachel's, instructions explicitly. When I called her (frustrated by elaborate and rather icky sounding internet recipes) for advice, she read me the Ball Canning recipe and made me promise to use as much sugar as they called for (Who, me? skimp on sugar?) so we wouldn't end up with botulism.

The recipe was successful, I hit a farmer's market and bought the quantity pictured in my sink above, and made about a dozen jars of cranberry sauce. I don't know if this sounds exciting to anyone but me, but it tastes just like Ocean Spray! I love the cans, I was thrilled to replicate that taste.

I thought I'd post the recipe, and also encourage any other cranberry-phobes: You can do it! It's exactly like making any kind of jelly. (You can use a water bath canner if you're going to can it. If you weren't going to can it, you could skip all steps but boiling the ingredients below.)

Simple Cranberry Sauce Recipe:

Start your water bath and have sterilized jars ready.
4 c water,
4 c sugar, and
8 c cranberries
Put in a dutch oven and boil till they "pop." (You'll know, trust me.)
They need to hard boil for 10-15 min. You can add OJ or orange zest (I didn't), and if you're canning, leave 1/4" headspace at the top and waterbath can for 15 minutes (Ball's directions).

It was really empowering, let me tell you. If I can make cranberry sauce, what else can I do that I never realized was possible?! Who knows? Today the cranberry, tomorrow the world! . . . or, I don't know, maybe the kumquat, whatever that is.

Anyway, yum!

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