Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cranberry Relish

There, too, I admired, though I did not gather, the cranberries, small waxen gems, pendants of the meadow grass, pearly and red, which the farmer plucks with an ugly rake, leaving the smooth meadow in a snarl, heedlessly measuring them by the bushel and the dollar only, and sells the spoils of the meads to Boston and New York; destined to be jammed, to satisfy the tastes of lovers of Nature there.
Henry David Thoreau

Cranberries, cranberries, cranberries.  Ever wonder how and where they grow?  In Water?  And how did cranberries ever get associated with turkey and Thanksgiving?

Well, I did a little research.  Well, according to the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association:
The cranberry, along with the blueberry and Concord grape, is one of North America's three native fruits that are commercially grown. Cranberries were first used by Native Americans, who discovered the wild berry's versatility as a food, fabric dye and healing agent. Today, cranberries are commercially grown throughout the northern part of the United States and are available in both fresh and processed forms.

Okay, so the Indians introduced them to the Pilgrims. According to Wikipedia, "Calling the red berries Sassamanash, natives may have introduced cranberries to starving English settlers in who incorporated the berries into traditional Thanksgiving feasts." So, why are they called cranberries?  Pilgrims gave them the name because the fruit's blossoms look like the head and bill of a Sandhill crane.

Cranberries grow on vines, and, beyond popular belief, they do not grow in water. Instead, they grow in bogs, and, to facilitate harvest, these bogs are flooded before harvest.  But this type of harvesting is only used for cranberries that are made into juices, jams, and jellies.  Cranberries in bags that are found in the produce section of your grocery store, are dry harvested.  They are harvested with a machine that combs the vines for the berries.

Interesting.  And if, like me, you have never acquired a taste for cranberry jelly, there are many different kinds of recipes - I am sure one to your liking.


Per request of my sister and nieces, I am forever documenting this recipe for all generations.  One of us looses it every year.  This was a recipe handed down to us by my sister's mother-in-law.  It is sooo good!  The jello and sugar take away the cranberries' tartness.

Mrs. James' Cranberry Relish

2 sm. pkgs. jello, your choice of flavor (I use strawberry-banana.)
3 c. hot water
2 c. sugar
2 oranges, squeezed
2 apples, ground
1 # cranberries, ground

Dissolve jello and sugar in hot water.  Squeeze oranges, and grind apples and cranberries.  I use a nut grinder, blender, or food processor.  Add to jello mixture.  Pour into serving dish.  Let set overnight.

Enjoy your many blessings,
Aunt Janet

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