By Barbara Lauterbach
The beautiful season of fall means as sure as there are pumpkins, cranberries will follow. I love their sharp, tart flavor. My family has a tradition of serving two cranberry sauces at the holidays, “Conservative” and “Radica,l” so named by my brother-in-law Tom. When he first joined our family, Mom always made the recipe on the back of the cranberry bag, and I always made a concoction from the latest “foodie” magazine. When I mentioned to my daughter Lisa that I wanted to write about cranberries, she immediately replied “You have to do 'Cranberry Ketchup!'”
I had totally forgotten this recipe, but sure enough, it was in my files. She said she serves it every New Year's Day with baked ham at their open house. It is equally delicious with poultry. For some reason, it is called “Cranberry Ketchup;” this led me to ask why “Ketchup” or “Catsup?” Seems either spelling is considered correct; the word entered the English language in the late 1600s as a spicy pickled fish condiment from China, and according to Sharon Tyler Herbst in “The Food Lover’s Companion” (Barron’s 2001), the “Ketsiap” was brought from Asia to England by British sailors. The settlers in the late 1700s brought it to the new world, and started adding tomatoes to the sauce. The vinegar in the recipe makes ketchup tangy; the sugar and allspice mellow the sauce. The acidity of the cranberry is substituted for the tomato, hence Cranberry Ketchup!
Cranberries freeze well, tightly wrapped. If, in picking them over prior to use, any are shriveled or discolored, toss them out. Cranberries are very versatile, and can be used in combination with other fruits in pies, cobblers, and muffins. They are rich in vitamin C. This bottled cranberry condiment makes a nice hostess or holiday gift as well.
1 12 -ounce bag whole cranberries, picked over and rinsed
2 large onions, finely chopped (about 2 ½ cups)
1 cup white wine vinegar
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 TB. ground allspice
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup sugar
In a medium (nonreactive-not aluminum) saucepan, combine 2/3 cup water with the cranberries, onions, vinegar, garlic, allspice and salt. Bring to a simmer over moderately low heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and pulpy, about 20 minutes. Stir in the sugar, return to a simmer, cook, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes longer. Let cool for 30 minutes.
Transfer to a blender or processor, and puree, then strain into a glass measuring cup. Pour the ketchup into a glass bottle. It will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 months.
Makes about 1 ½ pints.
Note: If you use a blender, it may not be necessary to strain the sauce. I liked the texture of the sauce made in a blender, not strained.
“Foodie” will not appear on Thursday, Nov. 7, as Barbara will be in Sicily collecting holiday recipes. Look for delicious findings on Nov. 23.