Friday, November 23, 2012

Cranberry Relish

by Sheila Connolly

Okay, I'll admit it:  my family always ate Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, the kind that comes in a can.  It was fun to open one end, then poke a hole in the other to eliminate the suction and then watch it go "plop" onto the serving dish.  Then we sliced it and doled it out, one slice per plate.

We still do. And now I live in the town that is home to Ocean Spray, so I guess I have to remain loyal.  Besides, Ocean Spray is a cooperative, buying cranberries from a lot of local growers, an idea I kind of like.  And the nearest bog is only a couple of miles from here—I go by it on the way to the grocery store.


The American Indians ate cranberries long before the settlers showed up—the cranberry is one native to this country, just like the turkey.  You probably learned about "pemmican" in grade school:  mashed up deer meet and cranberries (no, I'm not going to give you a recipe for that!). Still, the cranberry did not become a commercial crop until the nineteenth century and the development of the "wet harvesting" technique, where the bog is flooded and the cranberries float to the top, where they are sucked into…umm, I don't know what.  You see, even though I live near a lot of cranberry bogs, I've never managed to watch a harvest.  Any year now!

However, the ones you buy at the supermarket are dry harvested, collected by a mechanical picker.

But enough about how you get them.  What do you do with them?

Among my mother's recipes I found one for a Cranberry Mold.  I am not going to recommend it, because it includes cherry Jell-o, chopped celery, nuts, sour cream, and, oh yes, cranberries.  Not my kind of thing.  Instead I'd like to offer you an alternative side dish, if you just can't face another cylinder of Ocean Spray's finest. This one is easy to make (especially if you can draft someone else to do the peeling and chopping), and it's a fresh and tasty change in case you've run out of the canned stuff.


Fall Fruit Relish

2 sweet apples, cored and chopped finely (not peeled)

2 medium pears, peeled, cored and chopped

¾ cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

½ cup of chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted

½ cup apple juice

1 tsp grated orange zest

½ tsp ground cinnamon (I even grated my own!)

1/8 tsp ground cloves

Cortland apples, Bosc pears, and cinnamon

Combine all the ingredients and refrigerate.  This will keep for about two weeks in the refrigerator, but it's better eaten fresh.  It does provide a nice bright note to go with your turkey and fixings.




  1. It sounds delightful, though I must admit-I love Ocean Spray from the can. Quicker than slicing and dicing too!

  2. I like the tube of Ocean Spray too Kat! But this week my hub clamored for something more elegant. So I tried the recipe that was in the New York Times this week--also with apples and cranberry, and fresh jalapeno and ginger. It was very tasty!

    Happy black Friday everyone. Are you going shopping?

  3. Cranberries might just be my very favorite part of Thanksgiving. I make it fresh, though. It's the easiest thing in the world.

    But this year, I was the only one who liked cranberries! Hah! More for moi! I might try this fruit relish next year for the people who don't love cranberries.

    ~ Krista
    And no, I'm not shopping -- I'm working toward a deadline!

  4. We are a strictly raw cranberry relish family. My daughter used to insist on the canned jelly, but I got tired of throwing most, if not all, of it out when she never got around to eating it

    This year's relish:
    2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
    1/4 lemon (no seeds but everything else)
    1/2 orange (same)
    Try to get organic since the peel is going in
    about 1/3 cup sugar (try less and taste, it depends on the cranberries and your taste buds)
    Pop all this in the food processor and chop it up.
    You end up with lovely fresh tasting stuff that looks like crushed garnets.