To celebrate the cranberry harvest and Thanksgiving I have three cranberry recipes for you, including two using raw cranberries. Raw cranberries are extremely healthy. High levels of antioxidants, antibiotic properties very helpful for those with urinary tract infections, and a preventative measure for kidney stones are a few of this autumn berry's nourishing ways.
Cranberries are native in North America and were used by indigenous peoples for food, dyes, skin treatments, and preserved in pemmican. They have been popular for Thanksgiving meals for centuries, and as a juice since the 1960's thanks to Ocean Spray, a cranberry cooperative started in the early part of the century. They are in the genus Vaccinium along with fellow bush berries, the blueberry and huckleberry.
Washington State is the 5th largest supplier of cranberries, many of them being made into juice and Craisins by Ocean Spray. In 1919 the first cranberry farm was planted in Grayland (7 miles south of Westport) and this still is the center of cranberry farming in Washington. On the stretch along the Pacific between Westport and Tokeland the area is called The Cranberry Coast. Thirty percent of cranberry farms in Washington are located here. There is even a yearly Cranberry Harvest Festival and a self guided Grayland bog driving tour available on the Westportwa website. That driving tour would be a great combo trip with some razor clamming out at Grayland Beach State Park.
Most Washington cranberry farmers sell directly to Ocean Spray. It would be nice to see some of those cranberries being directly marketed to local consumers. This year was the first time Foraged and Found Edibles has sold cranberries at the farmer's market. In the past we have picked just enough for personal use. We harvest them in a old overgrown bog in Grayland next to our friends house. Before all this farming cranberries grew wild all along the Pacific Coast and were utilized extensively by the local natives and then the settlers when they arrived. There are still different varieties of cranberries growing in the wild, just a little harder to find than in the past.
a cranberry bog in grayland
Many cranberry preparations call for large amounts of cane sugar to balance out there sour and bitter flavors, unfortunately this greatly lessens their healing properties. I have been trying to increasingly use alternatives to conventional sugar in my cooking. These recipes take advantage of fruits and honey to sweeten the berries. Apple cider is one great sweetener that is easily available to us in the NW.
Cranberry Walnut Vinaigrette
This recipe is inspired by a salad in Starting With Ingredients by Aliza Green. I am not usually a fan of fruit vinaigrettes but this sounded interesting. The bright pink color is not the most appetizing for food but it does taste great. Serve with bitter greens like endives or in a carrot slaw with dried fruit. I ended up nibbling on it like dip with treviso, sliced raw cranberries and chopped walnuts, yum.
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/3 cup walnuts
1 Tbsp chopped shallot
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts
1/4 orange juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp honey
salt and pepper
Place all ingredients in a blender and combine until smooth.
creamy pink yumminess
Raw Cranberry Ginger Relish
This easy sauce is great with Thanksgiving turkey or with roast game. And so good on leftover turkey sandwiches. Add some chopped walnuts right before serving if desired. With walnuts it reminds me of haroset served at Jewish Passover meals. Adjust the dates and honey to your sweetened desire.
2 satsuma oranges, washed, halved, and seeds removed
6 - 8 medjool dates, pits removed
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 cups fresh cranberries
2-4 tsp honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup
Place satsumas, dates, and ginger in the work bowl of a food processor. Puree until fine. Add cranberries and sweetener and pulse to chop until medium-fine but not a paste. Alternatively toss all ingredients together and run through a meat grinder. This gives it a great texture. Let sit at least one hour for flavors to combine.
Spiced Cranberry Quince Chutney
I adapted this sauce from my own recipe in the 2010 Illustrated Wild Foods Recipe Calendar for Evergreen Huckleberry Chutney. It goes with out saying - this is turkey dinner material. Also a perfect candidate for a holiday chutney cream cheese roll.
1 cup small diced shallots
3 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground clove
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 cinnamon stick
1 ½ cups small-diced quince (about 1 med quince)
2 cups apple cider
3 1/2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
3-6 tbsp of honey
Sauté shallots in olive oil over medium-high heat until they begin to lightly brown. Turn heat to medium, add salt and spices, and cook for a few more minutes, until spices are fragrant. Add quince and apple cider; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down and keep at a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes until quince is tender. Add cranberries and 3 tbsp honey and cook until berries pop, about 20 minutes. Taste and add more honey if too tart. Let cool to room temperature to serve, or store in refrigerator for up to one week.