Do you know what is in season in Ontario right now, aside from apples and pumpkins? I’ll give you a hint; they are small, tart, red berries that contain vitamin C, dietary fibre, manganese, as well as being touted as a super-food packed full of antioxidants. They are a go-to item for urinary tract infections, and a staple on this weekend’s Thanksgiving dinner table. All hail the cranberry!

Ok, let’s clear our plates a little, shall we? If you have turned your nose up in the past over the red jelly that slides out of a can with its ridges intact, I can’t say as how I blame you. There’s not much imagination there now, is there? We are in the 21st Century though and can do so much more with cranberries. And I’m not just talking about them on your dinner table either, but we can certainly start there. How about trying your hand at making some homemade cranberry sauce to serve up beside your turkey this Thanksgiving. This recipe from Canadian Living is a mere 68 calories per 2 tbsp, with only 16 g of carbohydrates, no fat, but 10% of your vitamin C intake for the day. 

SPICED WHOLE CRANBERRY SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 1 navel orange
  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) dry red wine or apple cider
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 star anise, optional)
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cloves
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pkg fresh cranberries

Directions:

  1. Peel rind (not including pith) off orange and cut into very thin strips (or use zester); set aside.
  2. Squeeze orange juice into saucepan; add sugar, wine, cinnamon, star anise (if using), cloves, salt and cayenne. Bring to boil over medium heat; boil until syrupy and reduced to about 1/4 cup (50 mL), about 18 minutes.
  3. Add cranberries and orange rind; simmer, stirring often, until cranberries are softened but still whole, about 8 minutes. Let cool. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 1 week.)

Decorate your table with cranberries this Thanksgiving

If you can’t resist buying more than one bag of cranberries when they lie so tempting at the grocery store, there is far more that you can do with these humble fruits. They freeze well, so can be used later in baking, making jams, jellies or sauces. You can also add them to beverages for a festive flair, and they are even more practical if they are frozen to keep that drink cool. Instead of getting chintzy items from the dollar store, or expensive items at a home boutique, you can also turn to the simple cranberry to add a seasonal sensation to your holiday decor. Think cranberries floating in water, or on a tray with votive candles, to take you back to simpler times.

Ready to make a cranberry masterpiece?

Why stop there? If you’ve got the time, make up a cranberry topiary for a centrepiece that will wow your guests on Thanksgiving day. Cranberries last a long time, so this can be a make-ahead project. Maybe the kids would enjoy this craft project? If you want it to last, spray on a little shellac, and you are good to go for Thanksgiving day.

Cranberry Pueblo Cocktail anyone?

If you love the idea of cranberries, but your creativity stops at cranberry juice, don’t fret. Make up a cranberry punch for the kids and throw lemon and orange wedges in it. Dip a little bit out for the adults and add an ounce of vodka for a smooth Cape Cod. Or really impress your guests with a pre-dinner cocktail, like the Cranberry Pueble Cocktail from Oceanspray.

 

However you roll it, cranberries are a big part of Thanksgiving celebrations. I wish you and your family the best over your holiday celebrations this weekend.

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