What better than a stormy Monday morning to bust out a blog post. Sometime between late Sunday evening and early this morning, Sandy’s wind and rain arrived in Massachusetts. I’m wondering what all the hullabaloo up here is about, though, as she doesn’t seem to be as harsh as the weather reports have led me to believe. It’s too early to tell if the next 48 hours will be a total washout (aka downed trees / limbs and flash flooding and all the FUN that comes with those things), but a precautionary state of emergency has already been declared and many a student and employee are enjoying an extended weekend as a result. Truth be told, I’m probably one of the only souls bummed out about work cancellations; today was supposed to be my first trip to the Greater Boston Food Bank for my new job!
As I mentioned in my last post, my schedule is in a major state of flux, but I couldn’t be happier about all the change that is taking place. I’m finding it quite easy to transition into new routines; hours spent in the garden and kitchen to grow and preserve food are being exchanged for hours spent at the food pantry, gym, and in my cozy little bedroom reading.
Cranberry-based preserves are a fitting end to a season rich with locally-grown foods. In addition to blueberries and Concord grapes, cranberries are one of three fruits native to North America, and nearly one-third of their commercial acreage is found right here in Massachusetts. Most consumers find the vitamin C-rich berries too tart to eat raw, though I’ve always enjoyed them this way straight from the fridge or freezer. Processed berries, whether sweetened and dried or sauced and canned, are far more popular alternatives to their raw counterparts. Being the health nut that I am, I wanted to sauce some up with much less sugar than is called for in most canning recipes, never mind the sugar-laden, straight-outta-the-can sauce I grew up eating every Thanksgiving. As with several recipes I’ve featured this year, I opted to use only pure, light-amber maple syrup as a sweetener, but feel free to use white sugar if you prefer.
- about 6 1/2 lbs fresh cranberries, washed and picked through for bruised berries and stems
- 2-3 c pure maple syrup (I used just 2 c for a tart sauce)
- 4 c liquid (water, pure apple cider, or fresh-squeezed OJ recommended)
- zest of one lemon or orange, finely grated (optional)
- about 2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a large, non-reactive pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, uncover, and simmer until most of the berries have popped/cracked, about 10-15 minutes; while simmering, gently stir the sauce just once or twice to ensure no berries are sticking to the bottom of the pot. Taste the sauce to ensure its sweetness is to your liking, adding more maple syrup or sugar if desired. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust two-piece caps. Process in a boiling-water bath canner for 15 minutes.