We all have that memory of the dreadful, pink, gelatinous, cranberry-like side dish on the dinner table that Uncle Bob just can’t get enough of. But before you dismiss cranberry sauce altogether, let’s take a closer look at this magical berry.
The cranberry is native to North America and has been used for centuries by Native Americans as both food and medicine. Given this, it is widely accepted as one of the foods served at the first Thanksgiving meal shared with the Pilgrims.
During the 1930s, the cranberry industry shifted its harvesting methods, which resulted in fruits with aesthetic blemishes causing the industry to develop new cranberry-containing products, leading to the well-known canned, ready-to-serve cranberry salad or “sauce.” Though this jelly substance may be lacking in nutritional sustenance, cranberries themselves pack a huge nutritional punch!
Cranberries are low in calories and carbohydrates, contain protein, and are very high in fiber and potassium, which is necessary for bowel health and muscle contraction. They are also high in vitamin C, magnesium, and manganese, making them the perfect autumn fruit for cold and flu season.
Cranberries also contain high levels of antioxidants to prevent cellular damage, phytonutrients which reduce inflammation, antiseptic chemicals (reducing rates of infections,) and a specific phytonutrient found in green tea and cocoa known to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
So, before you dismiss cranberries at your holiday meal, try making your own cranberry sauce from scratch this year. The simple recipe below is not only nutritious but absolutely delicious!
Easy, Homemade Cranberry Relish
- 1 cup Red Zinfandel wine
- ½ cup local raw honey
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 10 whole cloves
- 1tsp nutmeg
- 2Tbsp orange zest
- 1pkg fresh cranberries
- Combine honey with red wine, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and orange zest. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook approximately 15 minutes until liquid reduces to about ½.
- Strain liquid to remove cinnamon, cloves and orange zest.
- Add the cranberries, bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer. Stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes, until most of the cranberries have burst. They will make a popping sound like popcorn.
- Remove from heat, allow relish to cool. This will continue to thicken while cooling. Serve slightly warm or cold.
This dish is excellent as leftovers and can be prepped 2-3 days ahead of time. As it sits, it will release more flavors.