In the "Dear Mother" section of the July 2001 issue, John E. Venable said he has never found a recipe for high-bush cranberries that he liked, nor has he ever found a person who thought them palatable. Well, John, I have some family and friends who disagree with you. They beg me for my high-bush cranberry syrup and jelly each year at Christmas time.
My favorite way to eat high-bush cranberries is as a jelly or syrup poured liberally over a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Here is a recipe for jelly, which I adapted from Cooking Alaskan (available from Alaska Northwest Books).
High-Bush Cranberry Jelly
4 pounds berries
2 cups water
7 cups sugar
Crush berries thoroughly in water with a potato masher and boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Pour mixture carefully into jelly bag or cheesecloth, hang and drain. Do not squeeze the bag: It will make the jelly cloudy. (You can squeeze the extra juice out later and use it to make cranberry juice or spritzers.) Let the bag hang for several hours or until juice stops dripping. Measure out 5 cups juice. Mix with the sugar in a saucepan.
Depending on how many partially ripe berries you have, adjust your pectin accordingly. An average batch uses a half bottle of liquid pectin or one 1.33 ounce package of powdered pectin. Bring juices to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Quickly add pectin all at once. Bring mixture back to a rolling boil and boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off the foam. Pour into clean, hot jars and process for canning. Makes 8 cups.
I hope you give high-bush cranberries another try before writing them off completely. They are considered a delicacy here, and patches are guarded zealously by devotees.
Environmental Education Program
Chenega Bay, Alaska