Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) are native to North America and used as food and juice. They are high in Vitamins C and A, flavonoids, pectin, tannins, and contain minerals like potassium, calcium, iodine, iron and magnesium*. Fresh, these berries are sour and astringent, but with a bit of spices and sugar make a delicious winter dish.
Cranberry Sauce was always one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving dinner with my family in Ohio. I’m pretty sure this is the only time we ever had it. We prepared the plate with a nice green leaf, opened the can on one end, and slid it out of the can and onto the plate. The rings were festive adornment.
A few years ago I learned a recipe from my dear friend Puma that started with fresh cranberries and steeping Earl Gray Tea to add into the mix. It turned out delicious and I have been making it ever since. I think Puma got the original recipe from Sunset Magazine but I have tweaked it a bit over the years since I almost never have Star Anise.
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 2 1/4 cups sugar (you can use a little less if you use cane sugar)
- 1tsp. Cardamom tincture or 4 whole Cardamom Pods
- 1 tbs. mixture of all spice and clove (whole) or 3 whole star anise
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 5 Earl Grey tea bags
- 8 cups whole cranberries (about 2 1/2 bags, fresh or frozen)
- In a 4-quart pot combine the water, sugar, and spices. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. After boiling point is reached, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
- Tie together 5 Earl Grey tea bags, add to the pot of spices and simmer approximately 2-5 more minutes (don’t steep too long or the tea can become more bitter than you may like).
- Remove tea bags and spices with a spoon/strainer and add 8 cups whole cranberries. Do not add more liquid. The berries will cook down pretty quickly.
- Increase heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring often. Cranberries will soften and pop as they split their skins and sauce thickens. Cook about 12 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before serving or storing(the sauce will thicken further as it cools). Sauce may stay preserved in the refrigerator for up to a week or more.
In my herbal medicine practice, I use cranberry juice (unsweetened) to prevent or remove bacteria from forming in the urethra. Making it a great ally in treating and preventing urinary tract infections.
*The Earthwise Herbal, Matthew Wood