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Cranberries: Maine Food for November

November 6th, 2009

cranberries; photo by Charlie ArmstrongWith fall comes the arrival of local cranberries! No fall or winter holiday table would be complete without at least one cranberry item. Cranberries can be added to countless dishes, from quick breads, yeast breads, salads, relishes, salsas and chutneys, to soups, grain-based entrees and of course desserts. Enjoy these tart berries that provide a boost of vitamin C!

As cranberries become available, it’s a good idea to buy extras and freeze them for use later on. University of Maine Cooperative Extension publishes information to help you find, grow, use, preserve, and store in-season fruits and vegetables in Maine. Visit our publications catalog to order or download bulletins to fit the season, including November favorites such as:

Freezing Cranberries

Cranberry marketers recommend that the plastic bags of cranberries they sell be placed directly in the freezer and used without thawing—just rinsed with cold water before use. The preferred method is to sort and wash the berries before freezing to eliminate any stems, leaves and bruised or soft berries.

Preparation: Choose firm, deep-red berries with glossy skins. Stem and sort. Wash and drain. A salad spinner is an excellent tool to use to spin off excess moisture that will otherwise cause the skins to toughen and the berries to stick together in the container. Pack cranberries into freezer-grade containers, leaving headspace or freeze them first on a tray and then pack them into containers as soon as they are frozen. Remove as much air as possible from the container.

Storage: To extend the time frozen foods maintain good quality, package foods in material intended for freezing and keep the temperature of the freezer at 0°F or below. Cranberries should be used within 9 to 12 months.

Cranberry Recipes

Spicy Cranberry Salsa
Yield: about 6 pint jars

6 cups chopped red onion
4 finely chopped large serrano peppers
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar (5%)
1 tablespoon canning salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons clover honey
12 cups (2 3/4 pounds) rinsed, whole cranberries

CAUTION: Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.

Combine all ingredients except cranberries in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat slightly and boil gently for 5 minutes. Add cranberries, reduce heat slightly and boil mixture for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Pour the hot mixture into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Leave saucepot over low heat while filling jars. Remove air bubbles. Adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a damp, clean paper towel. Adjust lids. Process 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath.

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Cranberry Orange Chutney
Yield: about 8 half-pint jars

24 ounces fresh whole cranberries
2 cups chopped white onion
2 cups golden raisins
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups white distilled vinegar (5%)
1 cup orange juice
4 teaspoons peeled, grated fresh ginger
3 sticks cinnamon

Rinse cranberries well. Combine all ingredients in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until cranberries are tender. Stir often to prevent burning. Remove cinnamon sticks. Pour the hot chutney into hot sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a damp, clean paper towel. Adjust lids. Process 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath.

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Cranberry Sauce
Yield: about 2 pint jars or 1 quart jar

1 quart cranberries
1 cup water
2 cups sugar

Wash cranberries. Cook berries in water until soft. Press through a fine sieve. Add sugar and boil 3 minutes. Pour boiling hot sauce into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a damp, clean paper towel. Adjust lids. Process 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath (pints or quarts).

Extension Educator Kathy Savoie from the UMaine Extension Cumberland County office cautions that you should get up-to-date information if you are planning on canning food. Over the years there have been changes in scientific expertise as well as canning equipment, so there is new information on the best methods, canners, jars, and seals to use to ensure a safe result. Updated recommendations are as close as your local UMaine Extension office.

Posted in Recipes