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Cranberry Chutney: Not Really an Ordeal at All

November 23, 2010

Cranberry Chutney always involves some drama, even though the dish itself is incredibly easy to make. This is one of my grandmother’s recipes, although oddly it’s one I never made with her. She always made it on her own a few days before Thanksgiving. However, then as now, there was always some sort of ordeal involved in getting it made.

The drama used to be about this stuff:

Candied ginger in syrup. This product got harder to find as the years went on, so when any of the women in my family saw this in a store, we were to buy it immediately. I was of course well-versed in this policy, so when I saw it my first week in Oxford, I bought it right away. The last few years back home, we couldn’t find it and wound up using dry candied ginger instead. Dried ginger is still tasty, but has a different texture and a more extreme flavor than the syrupy stuff. It totally works in a pinch.

In the years since we gave up on the ginger in syrup, the drama became an issue of quantity. My father loves this stuff and usually insists on us doubling or tripling the already large recipe. Meanwhile, my mom, who doesn’t even eat it, tries to reign him in. Making it alone this year, I found the relative silence kind of eerie.

This year, I had my ginger in syrup and no one to disagree about the quantity, so I thought I was in the clear. Then, I couldn’t find cranberries. I looked really carefully and went to several stores. I even entertained the somewhat disgusting idea of re-hydrating craisins.

Maybe the cranberries were there the whole time and I was just blinded by self-fulfilling prophecy. Or maybe the store manager was taking pity on cranberry-starved Americans. Either way, to my great relief, they turned up at my regular-old-supermarket the week of Thanksgiving.

All of the drama aside, this dish couldn’t really be easier: you dump everything in a pot, cook it, and then let it sit in the fridge overnight, or even better, for a few days to really let it pickle.

So, into the pot: cranberries, prunes, brown sugar, candied ginger, orange zest, apples and cider vinegar, in whatever freakin’ order you like.

Mix it all up.

Bring it to a boil…

Turn down the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes until the cranberries have all deflated. Let it cool and then keep it in the fridge for a day or three.

Wondering what the heck you do with cranberry chutney? Here is the cook’s treat while putting together the rest of the Thanksgiving feast: melted brie on toast with chutney and walnuts.  Mmmm.

Cranberry Chutney

Makes about 5 cups

24 oz cranberries, washed and picked-over
1 red apple, diced
1 pound brown sugar
cup dried prunes, minced
cup water
cup cider vinegar
cup minced preserved ginger, minced

1 Tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice

1. Combine ingredients in a large pot. Heat to boiling.
2. Cover, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes until cranberries are deflated.
3. Let cool. Chutney is best cold after a few days in the fridge.


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