The cranberry is my nemesis. It’s beautiful, it’s vibrant, and it’s quite possibly the only “winter” fruit here in the midwest. But what do you do with it? I have a confession. I have never understood cranberry sauce and in the few places I have tried to make it work in my mind, it never has on the Thanksgiving table. I get the theory, with all those rich, meaty, sweet, and savory flavors you need something to cut through it all so this tart fruit seems like a winner, and hey, if cranberry sauce on a slice of turkey is your thing than great but it just doesn’t work for me. So I have to admit when it found a home on my Thanksgiving table this year in more ways than one I was surprised and delighted.
Last year I got overly excited when, in October, the cranberry farmers arrive at the St. Paul Farmers market. So much so that I bought a 25 pound box of cranberries! With no plan other than I knew I would make cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. Now, I wasn’t totally loopy. I should share that my favorite cocktail is a Cosmo made with raspberry vodka. I figured I could make fresh cranberry juice and have amazing cosmos! How hard could it be right? I googled around and found some blogger who made cranberry juice using her fresh cranberries so I used her recipe. It was ok but it didn’t yield great results. The finished product was thick and cloudy. I still made my cosmos but they left a lot to be desired. That year I did made my cranberry sauce but for a year now my freezer has had one shelf that is entirely cranberries and they weren’t getting used.
I knew this year I would yet again make cranberry sauce. I don’t care for it much but I knew my husband enjoys it. However, I still wanted something I would enjoy with cranberry. As I have stated in previous posts in this series I did a lot of digging around on Chefsteps.com for ideas for other recipes so I figured, why not?! In their search field I plugged in cranberry and one of the top hits was Cranberry Soda!
What caught my attention was how clear it was so I looked at the recipe. It had four specialty ingredients and needed a whipping siphon. The whipping siphon I had and thankfully with Modernistpantry.com I knew I could get all the specialty ingredients. One ingredient they called for was phosphoric acid. This is something that using the right one is perfectly safe to drink but it only called for a little and the only one I could find to buy was a large amount. Thankfully Chefsteps is great at replying via twitter and got me some information on alternatives, one being citric acid which I already had on hand so I stuck with that.
The biggest surprise came through something called Pectinex Ultra SP-L. This was the key to making crystal clear juice. Just a few drops of this stuff and it allows you to get beautiful juice every time. The rest of the ingredients were to create a delicious flavor that supported and accentuated the natural flavor of the cranberry. To make it into soda all I needed to do was pour it into my siphon and charge with with Co2. The soda was fun and different and something I will definitely do again but the juice is something I will go to often and even with different fruits at different times of year. I think the most exciting thing is now I have made maybe 6 or 7 batches of cranberry juice and it’s getting used as quickly as I make it. I actually think I may use up all the cranberries in my freezer finally!
I think the idea of a cranberry drink has real merit at a Thanksgiving feast. It’s bright and refreshing but not to worry I still made my Triple Berry Cranberry Sauce as well and I even found a place for it in my menu. In my post about planning the meal, I ended up breaking the feast into lunch and dinner. Each had a different dinner roll and the Honey Seeded Rye Pull Apart Rolls had the Everything Bagel Butter. I knew the cranberry sauce needed to go with the dinner meal and then it hit me to use it as a spread on the Knotted Dinner Rolls. These were a fully white roll and with this sauce or jelly on them it just clicked in my head. Then eating it became a delight. It was almost like having a little dessert while eating dinner. For the first time I finally was eating my fare share of the cranberry sauce I had made.
So this year I am not only thankful for finally learning how to make cranberry juice but also how to make cranberry sauce work in the menus I plan.