Cranberry: A Superfruit

Cranberry, the fall fruit, has much in common with the gooseberry. Both are tart, astringent, and contains phytochemical, a chemical compound that is said to have cancer-fighting properties. When my mother’s friend asked her to drink the juice of Indian gooseberry (amla) to build up her immune system after chemotherapy treatments, every meal thereafter also contained pickled or stewed version of the fruit. Cranberries are  just as versatile. As cranberry glaze, sauce, and bread grace Thanksgiving tables, I decided to experiment with new ways to embrace its tartness over this holiday season.

One of my favorite sweets is the classic English dessert called fool. Traditionally, a fool is made with stewed and pureed gooseberries that are folded into custard. The advantage to making fool is that the fruit and custard can be prepared ahead of time, a smarter and elegant way to end an elaborate meal. Modified versions of fool substitute gooseberries with strawberries or raspberries, and custard with whipped cream or yogurt. My version with cranberries embraces the customary cranberry and orange combination and homemade custard.

Cranberry Fool

Cranberries – ½ lb., washed and drained

Sugar – ¼ cup

Orange – 1, zest and juice

  • Add the cranberries, sugar, zest and juice to a pan.
  • Cook on low for about 10-12 minutes.
  • Puree the fruit when it is cool, setting aside some of the whole cooked berries for decoration.
  • Refrigerate the berries until ready to use.
  • Fold the berries into the custard.

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Pickled cranberries are a great addition to a Thanksgiving meal and can be used as relish. Borrowing some of the pickling ingredients (sesame oil and fenugreek) from Indian cooking, my version of pickled cranberries has a familiar texture of  relish – but with an added kick from mustard and chili spices.

Pickled Cranberries

Sesame oil – 3 tbsp

Cranberries – ½ lb., washed and drained

Mustard powder – ½ tsp

Chili powder – ½ tsp

Fenugreek seeds – ½ tbsp

Curry leaves – 4 (optional)

  • Heat the oil.
  • Add the fenugreek seeds.
  • Once the seeds start to sputter, add the mustard powder, chili powder and curry leaves.
  • Sauté for a few seconds, and then add the cranberries.
  • Cover and cook on low for about 10 minutes.
  • The cooked cranberries can be eaten immediately or they can be stored for two weeks.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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