A big bowl of fresh cranberry fruit salad in the fridge is a good thing to have around during the holidays and all winter long.
Fresh cranberries are a true holiday indicator. The question is always what will you do with them when you get home? Should you wait to buy them until you have an idea? Heck, no. Will the bag hang out in your crisper drawer while you read magazines and surf the internet for recipe ideas? Not this year.
When you get home cook the berries right away. This gets the cranberry sauce ready to go when you’ve firmed up plans for relishes, conserves, salads, and sauces. It just takes a few ingredients stirred into cooked cranberries and you’re off. Cranberries are great fun to play with because they take so well to both sweet and savory ingredients.
Try this strategy for getting the most out of cranberries this season. First, cook the cranberries just like it says on the bag with sugar and water. Simmer them just until they pop so the shape of the fruit is still visible. Put them in a covered container and chill. Now start dreaming, or surfing, or reading from your kitchen library for those who still do in today’s iWorld.
Our favorite Cheater Chef cranberry dish puts the cranberry sauce into a gorgeous ruby-tinged fresh fruit salad loaded with pineapple, oranges, pears, apples, and/or grapes. Add spices like cinnamon and ginger.
Cranberries pretty much let you use whatever you have around, but here are a few ideas to consider.
Waldorf Cranberry Salad—Add chopped apple, sliced celery, and toasted walnuts or pecans.
Indian Chutney—Add a splash of vinegar, chopped onion, fresh jalapeno pepper, raisins, grated fresh ginger, and cardamom. Add fresh apples to this too, if you like.
Dried Fruits—Dried figs, raisins, and even prunes work well.
Sophisticated Single Fruit—Spoon the cranberry sauce over a simple platter of sliced oranges or green apples.
Susan Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish—Make your own version of the NPR host’s famous recipe by stirring in a spoonful of prepared horseradish, chopped onion, and sour cream.
Canned Fruits—Canned pears, cherries, mandarin orange segments, and apricot halves are delicious with cranberries.
Fruit Fluff—Add chopped apples, grapes, toasted pecans and miniature marshmallows. Fold in one cup of cream, whipped. Some folks call this a salad. You may call it dessert.
Remember, use what you have! These fruits are just suggestions. Start cutting things up and toss them in the bowl.
- 1 bag fresh cranberries
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 crisp apples, cored and diced
- 2 firm ripe pears, cored and diced
- 2 navel oranges, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 fresh pineapple, skin cut off, cored, and diced
- 1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, optional
Combine the cranberries, water, and sugar in a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer until the berries begin to pop.
Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Transfer to a container with a lid. Chill.
Combine the chilled sauce with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
Chill until serving. Makes about 16 servings.