Cranberry conserve – bright, crunchy, stowed away for winter

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Provisioning the boat always leads to a few impulse purchases, usually of treats to pull out of a locker at a later date. On one shopping trip for this sail, though, I ended up with a bag of Maine cranberries. I couldn’t resist them. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked with fresh cranberries and they marked a transition from Maine summer produce to fall and winter foods.
That bag of cranberries has been shuffling around the boat’s fridge since we left. I had a plan for it, though. I found a recipe for Cranberry Conserve in my canning cookbook that sounded like a perfect way to preserve my impulse-buy cranberries and give us something festive to enjoy around the holidays.
The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving defines conserve as “luscious combinations of fresh and dried fruit and nuts, cooked to create a thick, sweet spread with a varied texture.” Yum! I know. It sounded like a winner to me.
I halved the recipe, since I have a limited supply of jars and there weren’t quite enough cranberries to make a full batch. My half batch was a bit too much for two, 8 oz jars, maybe because I didn’t let enough water evaporate by leaving the lid off early in the cooking process. I opted for almonds as my nut.
This conserve has a gorgeous, bright cranberry color and the orange peel and almonds add festive colors to the jars. The spread is definitely sweet and tastes similar to cranberry sauce. It has a slight citrus flavor from the orange and fun crunch from the almonds. The texture is very thick – perfect for spreading – or, as Lee did this morning, plopping on top of your oatmeal.

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This is my Fall Fest recipe for todays celebration of “The mad stash”. Visit A Way to Garden to find out more.

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Cranberry Conserve
From the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Makes about 4 8-ounce jars

1 orange (un-peeled), seeded and finely chopped
2 cups water
4 cups cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Prepare canner jars and lids.
Combine orange and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
Cover partially, and boil gently until the peel is tender (5 min. or so).
Add cranberries, raisins, and sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Return to a boil over medium-high heat and boil hard, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens (10-15 minutes).
Stir in nuts and cook, stirring constantly, for another 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and test gel. If the mixture gels, skim off foam.

Ladle hot conserve into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace.
Wipe rims, center lids on jars, and tighten to fingertip-tight.
Place jars in canner, covering them completely with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes.
Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars and leave them to cool completely.

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