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Real-Life Kitchen

Cran-tastic!

By Sara Bir

There's so much more to cranberries than wobbly, unmolded cylinders of canned cranberry sauce. There are cranberry scones, cranberry upside-down cake, cranberry-date bars and . . . cranberry ketchup? The latter specialty I ran across in American Cooking: The Northwest from Time-Life's 1970 Food of the World series. (These books are easily found used at garage sales, and are treasures! Buy them up!) The book didn't give much background on the recipe, only mentioning how pioneers depended on "a great galaxy of pickles and preserves." Cranberries, which are native to North America, certainly would have been available to them. Unlike cranberry sauce, cranberry ketchup is strained and cooked down to a thicker consistency, so it was probably better suited to "putting by."

Charmed by the concept of making my own ketchup (out of cranberries, no less), I tried the recipe and was immensely pleased with the results. Cranberry ketchup shares seasonings such as cloves and allspice with its tomato-based cousin, but its texture is firmer and more gelatinous. The flavor at first delivered that familiar clove-spice kick, but the finish was all puckery cranberry. American Cooking: The Northwest notes that cranberry ketchup is served with wild game and poultry, but I found that a thin slice of pumpernickel topped with sharp aged cheddar and a generous smear of cranberry ketchup is a snack to reckon with.

Cranberry Ketchup

I altered the amounts to match the 12-ounce bags that most fresh cranberries come in. You could easily double this recipe and bring a jar along the next time you need a gift to take along to a dinner party. Makes about one pint.

1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
1 small onion, finely diced
1/2 rib celery (including leaves), finely diced
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. kosher salt

Rinse the cranberries in cold water (if frozen, there's no need to thaw the berries). Place them in a two- to three-quart stainless steel or enameled saucepan with the onion, celery and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cranberries are very easily mashed against the side of the pan with a spoon.

Run the cranberry mixture through the fine blade of a food mill or rub it through a fine sieve with the back of a spoon, pressing hard to release as much purée as possible. Discard the solids.

Return the purée to the pan and add the remaining ingredients. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and skimming off any scum, until thickened enough to hold its shape solidly on the tip of the spoon, about 15 minutes. Taste to check for seasonings, ladle into a sterilized pint glass jar and seal.

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From the November 2-8, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.




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