Monday, November 25, 2013

Behold the Beautiful Cranberry

Although I bemoan summer's passing, I look forward to autumnal foods, especially cranberries. I love these ruby-colored fruits, both as a photographer and as a cook.  When I was a kid, we used to have two types of cranberry sauce on the table: jellied and whole berry. I prefer the whole-berry type, and unless I'm having a very large crowd, that's the only kind I serve on Thanksgiving.

Whole-berry sauce is one of the easiest foods to cook. Simply wash the berries and pick out the wrinkled weirdos. Then add about a cup of liquid, 3/4 cup of sugar, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Let simmer until all the berries burst, about 10 minutes. Then let cool.

I really like the combination of orange with cranberry, so I use orange juice for all or part of the liquid. I also add the orange zest, chopped up, to the berries as they start to cook. If I have a lemon, I might add a bit of that as well.

Cranberry-orange sauce is not only great with turkey, but also with pork, chicken, and biscuity types of breads, including scones. Because it's so easy to make, I usually keep some on hand for most of the autumn and winter. Many people swear that it helps keep them healthy, since the berries are high in fiber, Vitamin C, and other nutrients. Be that as it may, I like it for its look and tart-sweet flavor. It brightens up the table and the taste buds.

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