Monday, November 19, 2012

Cranberry Applesauce for Thanksgiving!

I wanted to be sure to get this one up before Thanksgiving in case anyone else is experimenting with cranberries.

The apples this year have been disappointing.  A few weeks ago, my girlfriend bought a bag of Honeycrisp apples, of all things, and found them too tart for eating raw.  Honeycrisp!  Go figure.  I said no worries, I'll make them into applesauce.  I was going to do something really simple, just the apples and some Trader Joe's pumpkin pie spice (I love their pumpkin pie spice because it has cardamom and lemon zest in it).  Then I got to thinking about all the cranberries I have in the bottom of my freezer.

Last year around this time I went kind of crazy and froze about six bags of cranberries when they were cheap.  I had some ambitious plan to can my own cranberry sauce and give it as gifts.  Suffice it to say, the cranberries are still sitting in the freezer.  And my freezer is not all that big.  So the cranberries are kind of in the way.

My family has a delicious cranberry sauce recipe we have been making since I was a little kid, but it contains two ingredients I now avoid:  nuts and sugar.  So I had been thinking about whether it would be possible to make good-tasting cranberry sauce without any sort of concentrated sweetener, except maybe stevia (I find that opinions differ as to whether stevia is bad for people who have a problem with sugar.  So far I have only used it in tea, and have not found it to make me wacky or cause cravings.  But I haven't eaten it much).  I was planning on doing a little experiment, one of these days.  The next thing I knew, I had picked over and washed a bag of cranberries, and was pouring them into the pot with my peeled, sliced apples.

My family cranberry sauce recipe uses orange juice as the liquid.  We had orange juice in the fridge, and also a little cherry juice, so I used both.  Then I wondered if this would be sweet enough, so I threw in some frozen pineapple.  I thought about adding stevia, but decided to wait and see.  In the end, no added sweetener was necessary.  It certainly doesn't taste the same as straight-up cranberry sauce, but it's a good start.

Experimental Cranberry Applesauce

7 medium sized apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 bag cranberries, picked over and washed
About 1/2 lb pineapple tidbits (I used Trader Joe's frozen.  Canned in juice would also work)
1 cup fruit juice (I used half orange and half cherry)
1 tsp or more pumpkin pie spice.

Put it all in a pot, bring it to a boil, simmer until it's the consistency you want.  Makes about five cups.  It comes out a lovely pink color:
There's not a lot of extra liquid in this.  You need to stir frequently and watch constantly so it doesn't burn.  Here is what happens when you don't:

The sauce itself tasted fine, but scrubbing the pot was no fun at all.

In case you're wondering, here is my family's recipe.  We got it from my kindergarten teacher.  Her name was Mrs. Fishman, and we always referred to her as Mrs. Go-Fishman.  Debbie Fishman, if you're out there, thank you.  We didn't know how easy and worthwhile it was to make your own cranberry sauce, until we met you.

Mrs. Go-Fishman's Cranberry Sauce

1 bag cranberries, picked over and washed
1 cup orange juice
Sugar to taste.  I like about 3/4 of a cup.  If you like it tart, start with 1/2 cup and work up from there.
1 cup chopped walnuts

Put the cranberries, orange juice, and sugar in a pot.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until the cranberries pop.  It will thicken up a lot when it cools.  Remove from heat, and stir in the walnuts.  Om nom nom.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  Since Thanksgiving would not be complete without a turkey, here is a picture of  Victor, who is living out his life in peace at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary.  You can read Victor's story here.


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