I confess. When I was a kid, I loved the cranberry jelly stuff we had on the holidays. It was the closest thing I had to Jell-o, being raised a vegetarian. Plus it was fun to play with.
Time passed and I realized I had no idea what that stuff actually was, so stopped eating it. Someone tried to pawn off the loose cranberries in jelly stuff that is pretty similar, but I wasn’t fooled. Nope. Not me.
Now, a great many years later, I’ve lifted my embargo on cranberry stuff at the holidays. I discovered craisins or dried cranberries, and decided I can accept them into my life again. And thank Jebus, because I discovered this wonderful little recipe at our office Thanksgiving pot-luck.
It’s fresh and zesty, and best when made several days before you intend to use it. Which is optimal if you have a lot of cooking to do on the day of a big dinner. Make it up two days before and pop I in the fridge. All you gotta do is artfully pile it in a pretty dish and you’re ready to rock and roll.
Fresh Cranberry Relish
24 ounces fresh cranberries (two 12 ounce bags)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons grated ginger
Pinch of salt
1. You want to zest two tangerines or small oranges, and then squeeze the juice from one. Many recipes for this relish call for a whole navel orange, but any type of sweet citrus would probably work just fine. You do not want more tangy or sour flavors here.
2. Enter food processor. I have a 9-cup jobbie that’s super fun, but I still do this in two bathes to keep my mess under control. So put one bag of cranberries, and half of the sugar, ginger, salt, and zest/juice into the processor. You’ll have to use your judgment about how coarsely chopped you want it, but I recommend erring on the side off too chunky or you get mush. Do this a second time with the rest of the ingredients.
3. Pop this all in a bowl you can refrigerate and give it a good stir. You can keep this in the fridge to marinate for three days before it peaks, but a minimum of one full day is a must. I like to pull it out to stir a few times during, just to get those flavors all excited and mixed up. Serve it cold from the fridge, or take it out early to let it warm up a bit.
Cranberries are fun to cook with, and drink. If you work with fresh cranberries, you’ll know some are significantly more tart than others. So be the judge of how much sugar you need to use. This original recipe called for 3/4 to 1 cup of white sugar, but that was kind of outrageous. I switched to the brown sugar because the molasses gave a more mellow, smoky sweetness that works with the zesty berries.
Besides the bright flavors this relish adds to your holiday meal, you are going to love how sexy the deep red relish looks on the table.