After finishing my last two midterms yesterday, I spent most of the day in the kitchen. I have a tendency to buy way too much food when I go grocery shopping (a process in refinement, I assure you), and so there was a bunch of stuff sitting in there that needed doing something with. Some of this stash included a bunch of highbush cranberries we picked when visiting my parents for Thanksgiving, 2 weeks ago.
I searched around online for what to do with these large-seeded berries. Eventually, I realised that, because these berries need to be strained, the most I could probably do was make some kind of thick syrup. I found a recipe that called for a jalapeno, so I added that as well, though in the end, it really did nothing to the final flavour. I suppose boiling the mixture for so long was the culprit.
In any case, here’s the recipe I sort of cobbled together:
Likely we had close to 7 cups of highbush cranberries. I’m not entirely sure, though, because I didn’t measure before I began. I just went ahead and boiled what I had.
- 7 cups of highbush cranberries
- 1 cup of agave nectar
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 1 tbsp grated orange peel
Boil the highbush cranberries in a large pot, with enough water to cover the cranberries by an inch or two, for 25 minutes. Next, most recipes call for cheesecloth. I didn’t have any, so I placed a colander over a pot, placed a slightly open holed metal strainer over it, and pressed the cranberries through as hard as I could. I then took a slightly smaller holed metal strainer I have, and placed that over the resulting mess. I squeezed as hard as I could and got some cranberry goo out, leaving the seeds in between the two strainers. I mashed and squished until I couldn’t get out any more goo. I had to do this a few times to get through all the cranberries and juice I’d made.
Once this was done, I threw out the leftover skins and seeds. I’m not sure if other people could do something else with it – I just didn’t have time or desire to figure something out for them. Next, I put the slightly thick juice back into the pot, along with a finely julienned jalapeno. This really did nothing for the final flavour, as far as I can tell. It’s not spicy in the slightest… perhaps it made it slightly more savoury in flavour. I then added 1 cup of agave nectar, since I try not to cook with sugar anymore. Most recipes call for 2 cups of sugar. I didn’t want it to be that sweet, and I was using agave, so I put in 1 cup. I then added the 2 tbsp of freshly squeezed orange juice, and 1 tbsp of finely grated orange peel. Again, I don’t think this did too much to the flavour – but you never know.
I boiled the whole thing for about 45 minutes – just basically trying to reduce out the water, watching it thicken up a bit. In the end, I ended up with a semi-thick syrup… I let it cool, and when we poured it into the jar, it ended up being slightly thicker again than it had been when it was still boiling. The flavour is quite tart – Misha mentioned he liked how it’s not overly sweet. It has a lovely texture, though, and I think it’ll work well on any overly sweet desserts, or on savoury things like pork chops. Certainly, I really love the colour!