NANA WALTON’S KITCHEN
My world has glittered with frost the past three mornings. It tosses rainbows in the air as the sun’s rays peek through the golden leaves drooping from the trees. My carrots, spinach, cabbages, celery, radishes and onions are growing happily under their row cover. Another busy summer of canning and preserving has come to a close. With satisfaction I stare at rows of jams, pickles and tomato products put up for the cold months ahead.
Winter has a slower pace for those of us who garden and preserve the harvest. Canning does not end in my home simply because winter has arrived. Now is the perfect time for crafting one- of –a- kind gifts to share with others.
Thanksgiving has passed and my thoughts turn to making small batch Christmas goodies. This leads to pulling out my sugar and chocolate smeared cookbook, the one I started writing 20 years ago. The one I swear I will finish before I die. The one I will pass down to my granddaughter, full of generations of homemade memories.
Sipping my cocoa I flip to the cranberry butter recipe I created years ago. Cranberries were on sale and as a single, working mother I had little cash to spare for gifts to give friends and neighbors. Through trial and error over the next few weeks I created a delicious fruit spread that celebrates the flavors of the season.
What better way to celebrate the bounty of the harvest than a basket of scones and the fresh, bright taste of sweetly spiced cranberries?
From our home to yours, Happy Holidays!
CRANBERRY BUTTER (makes 10-12 cups)
4 medium sized sweet apples, peeled, cored and chopped, (golden delicious or galas are fine)
3 – 12oz packages fresh cranberries 5 cups sugar
Zest and juice of 1 large orange 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg ½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground clove ¼ tsp salt
(12-14) 8oz canning jars, sterilized
First combine orange zest and sugar, set aside for 30-60 minutes
Prepare apples as directed and place in a large stock pot, add orange juice and spices.
Using a fine mesh strainer strain sugar into the pot, discard the orange zest. Trust me on this – cooking with the zest makes the product too bitter!
Place the pan on the stove over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar melts. Cook until the apples become fork tender.
Add the cranberries and cook on medium high heat, stirring constantly, until most of the berries have popped or it reaches 210F. Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender or a blender until completely smooth.
Return to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until it just begins to boil.
Fill sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe the rims and threads clean with damp paper towel. Seal to fingertip tightness. Fill your canner with tap warm water. Bring to a boil on high heat. Process 4oz/8oz jars for 10 minutes or 15 minutes for pint jars. Never start your water bath with boiling water! The starting temperature of the water bath should always be lower than the temperature of your product.
This is a lovely spread for toast, scones or biscuits. It also makes a delectable filling for crepes or thumbprint cookies. Try spreading it on a chicken, turkey or ham sandwich with a bit of Brie and winter lettuce or use it to garnish a pork roast.
This recipe has approximately half the sugar of traditional jams making it a healthier option for those trying to count calories or reduce their sugar intake.
Please review the steps for water bath canning in a recent edition of the Ball Blue Book, “Guide to Preserving” or at the national center for home food preservation website: www.nchfp.uga.edu
Brandon Minnich Walton, all rights reserved, December 2015