It’s November and here at The Lakeside Collection we’re excited about the holidays! While we’re whittling down our gift lists, food and decor are coming together simultaneously — and some of those items are interchangeable, for instance: the cranberry. When they’re ripe, they’re the deep red we think of for holiday decor and winter warmth. They are also native to North America and, according to the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, the Pilgrims learned how to use cranberries for food, dyes and medicine from Native Americans — which may be why we see them on our Thanksgiving tables every year. Cranberries are versatile and festive little fruits. Here are 4 ways to use cranberries this holiday season:
Cranberry Sauce If you have only served cranberries from a can for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, you don’t know what you’re missing with homemade cranberry sauce — and it’s just as easy as opening a can.
- 16 oz fresh cranberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup orange juice.
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let bubble (about 5 minutes). When the cranberries have popped, remove the pan from the heat. Set aside to cool. This recipe can be made days ahead of your dinner and it can easily be doubled, tripled or cut in half.
Garland Cranberries are very hearty. If you buy them fresh, they can sit in your refrigerator for months after the holidays without spoiling. This makes them great for garland. In addition to the cranberries, all you need are dental floss and a sewing needle. They’re easy to make: tie a big knot at the end of the floss, thread the needle and string the cranberries together. The garland can be as short or long as you want to add holiday flair — use them to decorate the tree, dress up the mantle or brighten the bannister. If you want to add contrast, add popcorn to the mix — alternate between a piece of popcorn and a cranberry. If you’re doing this as a project with kids, don’t let them eat the cranberries. Though they are beautiful little fruits, raw cranberries are extremely tart.
Floating Candles Cranberries float. Putting them in a bowl with water isn’t like putting other fruit — like grapes — in a bowl of water. Though they seem very dense, they sit on the surface of water just like a raft. This makes them the perfect accompaniment to floating candles. All you need are hurricanes or clear glass containers, cranberries and floating candles. Fill the container (about half-way) with water, add a handful of cranberries and then arrange the candle in the cranberries. The cranberries should last about a week. If you have bigger candles you want to use, you can use the cranberries as a base to hold the candle without the water.
Cranberry Bread The holidays mean family will be visiting or you will be visiting family with lots of meals — including breakfast. This a an easy quick bread that’s great for breakfast that’s not too sweet and goes well with coffee (it can also be made into muffins).
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¾ cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
Crumble topping (optional):
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 TB cold butter, cubed
- ½ cup oats
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F. For the bread, combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Combine the egg and milk and add to the dry ingredients and stir until everything is moist but still lumpy. Gently stir in butter (do not over mix — it should still be lumpy). Fold in cranberries and nuts
For the crumble topping, combine all the ingredients and mix well. You can mash it with a fork, but it works best if you use your hands. It should resemble crumbly, wet sand when you’re done.
Grease loaf pans — 9 ½” x 5 ½” loaf pans work great, but you can also use min-loaf pans. Sprinkle the crumble topping on top of the batter.
Bake for 30 minutes. Check for doneness and turn if one side is browning faster than the other. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
With its luscious red exterior and tart, juicy interior, the cranberry is certainly the fruit of the holiday season. With all its flavor and beauty, it’s hard to get sick of the cranberry — but they’re only harvest in the fall so use them whenever and wherever you can now!