Tradition tweaked: cranberry sauce two ways

Among the myriad flavors of Thanksgiving dinner–and ours contains everything from the very traditional mashed potatoes and gravy to Turkish, Polish, French-Canadian, Indian, and vegetarian dishes and flavors–cranberries are the most iconic. Thanksgiving without turkey seems within the realm of possibility. Stuffing would hardly be missed. But no cranberries? Unthinkable, especially in this part of New England, where a cranberry bog is a pretty common landscape. Cranberries, fresh, frozen, and in baked goods are everywhere at this time of year. A local ice cream shop (Somerset Creamery) even  invented its own flavor: Cranberry Bog (cranberries, walnuts, and chocolate chips) in honor of the ubiquitous fruit.

Except for in 1990 when there was a major Massachusetts cranberry shortage, I have always made my own cranberry sauce. It’s wicked easy (as we like to say in these parts), and you can play it straight or take a slightly untraditional tack. I do both.

Since I had a bunch of Bell canning jars left over from my summer  pickling experiments, I used those for storing the cranberry sauce, although I did not process it (it’s going to get eaten in a few days!). I think I’ll just serve the sauce directly from the jars, which are attractive and kind of funky looking, if–you guessed it–untraditional.

Whole-Berry Cranberry Sauce
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, washed and picked over
juice of 2 oranges
1 tablespoon Cointreau or other orange liqueur
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until the cranberries have popped, about 10 minutes. Let cool before spooning into containers. Store in the refrigerator, but take it out about an hour before serving.

Spicy Cranberry Chutney
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, washed and picked over
1 cup golden raisins
2 slices fresh ginger root
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until the cranberries have popped, about 10 minutes. Let cool before spooning into containers. Store in the refrigerator, but take it out about an hour before serving.

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