Pick a quiet fall day to make your own special whole cranberry sauce and delicious Italian mostarda condiment. It’s quite easy and very economical to make condiments you’ll be proud to put on your holiday table.
With sweet potato casserole and pies waiting, you want something non-sweet and tangy to complement your turkey dinner and favorite sandwiches. It takes just a few minutes to whip up your own delicious and healthy version of the canned stuff from the grocery.
The sauce will keep nicely for a couple weeks in the refrigerator in canning jars. To keep some for Christmas or later, sterilize the jars, close with 2-piece lids, and process in your boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Makes 3 half-pints
• 4 cups (a 12-ounce bag) whole fresh cranberries
• 1 cup cane sugar, organic works well here
• 1 grapefruit, about softball size
1. Wash the grapefruit. With a zester, remove all the peel from the grapefruit in fine shreds, dropping it into a small bowl. (If you don’t have a zester, you can use a potato peeler and then cut the peel with scissors into very fine strips.)
2. Now cut the grapefruit in half, remove any seeds and cut out the sections, leaving the tough membranes, as though you were prepping it to eat. Drop the fruit into the bowl with the peel, give a chop or two to the large pieces and then squeeze the grapefruit to get as much juice as you can.
3. Wash the cranberries, and pick through them checking for any damaged berries. Put the grapefruit and sugar into a heavy bottom pot and slowly bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the mix is very liquid.
4. Add the cranberries, bring very slowly to a low boil, stirring frequently. Cook at a simmer until the berries pop. Continue to cook and stir for a few minutes more until the sauce thickens a bit. It will thicken more as it cools. Grapefruit has a lot of pectin, so you’ll have a nice jammy texture.
5. Ladle the hot sauce into impeccably clean half-pint jars, cover with lids and refrigerate when cooled. Or process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes to store in your jam cupboard.
Take an hour to whip up a delicious condiment to serve with game birds, pork or a charcuterie platter of cold meats and cheeses. You can buy this Italian condiment in luxury groceries or online for about $20 up to nearly $50 a jar. I estimated maybe $3 to make my own since I already had some of the ingredients on hand.
Makes 3 half-pints
• 6 ounces dried apricots
• ½ cup dried cherries
• 2 fat shallots
• 1 cup dry white wine, the everyday kind.
• ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
• ¼ cup flavorful local honey
• 1 tbsp ginger puree (see below)
• 2 tbsp best quality Dijon mustard
1. Set up the boiling water bath and sterilize half-pint jars, two-piece lids, the canning funnel and ladle.
2. With scissors, cut the apricots into ¼-inch pieces. Either coarsely chop the cherries or pulse them in the mini prep. Peel the shallots and mince finely or, better, pulse in the mini prep until minced.
3. Put the wine, balsamic vinegar and honey into a heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Add the ginger, apricots, cherries and shallots, stirring until mixed. Bring slowly to a low boil and cook for about 15 minutes until the apricots are soft.
4. Stir in the Dijon mustard and continue simmering for another 10 minutes or so until the mostarda is a loose jammy consistency.
5. Ladle into half-pint jars and process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
If you haven’t made my ginger puree yet, it’s very simple. Choose a silky-skinned piece of fresh ginger root. Roughly peel it, trimming any dry or bruised areas. Cut the ginger into slices about ½-inch thick. Toss the ginger into your Mini Prep, add a little sugar, maybe ¼ the amount of the ginger. Process to a puree.
I make up about a half-pint of this at a time. Store in the freezer door to have on hand for these sauces, plus stir fry, gingerbread, or one of my sweet pickle recipes.
Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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