Cranberry relish did not come out of a jar at my Mom’s house. My mother made everything from scratch, giving her homemade specialties to her friends and neighbors. I cannot find all of my mother’s recipes in the recipe card box she made for me. When in doubt, I use my memory as a backdrop and my experience as a cook to reconstruct my absolute favorites. As I stand and stir in the pan with a wooden spoon, I can just hear my Mom’s voice explaining how she makes her homemade relish.
- 500 grams of fresh cranberries (preferably organic)
- 3 large oranges
- 150 grams raw honey
Scrub the oranges well before making thread-like curls from the bright orange peel with a zester. Squeeze the juice of the orange into a sauce pan. Add half the honey and stir until dissolved. Allow the ingredients to reach simmering point, cooking them gently for five minutes..
Meanwhile rinse the fresh cranberries in a colander. Add half of the berries to the simmering orange juice, and cook them at low heat for fifteen minutes. The cranberries will pop open as they cook and their juices will turn the orange-honey mixture a beautiful bright red. Turn off the heat and let the cranberries cool to room temperature. The sauce will be quite liquid while it is still warm; but as it cools, it will thicken into a coarse jam.
Now is the time to grind the second part of the reserved cranberries. Chop them coarsely with a knife, use a vegetable mill if you have them or pulse them into crumbs with a food processor. Add the raw berries to the warm cranberry-orange sauce. Stir in the remaining honey if needed, and add in the orange zest.
Fill a sterilized glass jar with the cranberry relish, leaving off the lid until completely cooled. Store this bright, tart relish in the refrigerator for Christmas dinner or New Year’s cocktails.
♦ Suggested combinations
Cranberry relish goes well with meats such as roasted turkey, grilled chicken and pan-fried duck.
This pleasantly sharp and tangy relish works well with fresh goat’s or sheep cheese as a cocktail appetizer. Put a spoon of cranberry relish in the midst of a salad made with oranges. Add some walnuts and pomegranate seeds, pouring freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil over the ingredients. Serve the salad with freshly baked raisin bread.
Cranberry relish will keep well in the refrigerator for up to three months. If you are so inclined, add some crushed red pepper to your relish for a Mediterranean translation of my mother’s recipe.
You may even like grating fresh ginger over the relish when serving it with a simple grilled fish.