03 February 2010

Heavenly Cranberry Butter

So this post is a little late in the game, but I still think it is something worth sharing, especially since I just mentioned it in my oat cookie post. A couple autumns ago, my friend and I were confronted with baskets and baskets of apples.  She wanted to learn to make apple sauce, and I figured I could teach her.  So what did we do?  We made Cranberry Butter!

Doesn't make much sense, does it?  Oh well, I never promised to be logical.  We did make apple sauce that day, as well as some caramel apple butter (revolting!), cranberry butter and crapple* sauce.  It was a productive day in the kitchen, and it was fun to share whatever canning knowledge I have with my friend.  So what is Cranberry Butter?  First of all, get any notions of dairy out of your head.  Think apple butter - a thick, luscious concoction of sun-ripened fruit at its peak, cooked down into a soft, buttery pulp, perfect for spreading on toast.  Now replace those apples with cranberries, add a bit of sugar and some ginger, and you have a meltingly soft, buttery, tart, cranberry spread perfect for toast or oatmeal cookies (for breakfast, of course). 

This autumn, I realized I had to make some Cranberry Butter- STAT! I was all out, and the previous Christmas, I decided that Cranberry Butter made the most divine filling to a layered Hungarian Shortbread.  I absolutely had to have that filling for this year's Christmas cookies. So I bought some cranberries and got my butt in gear.  A few hours later, I had a dozen or so beautiful, ruby-red half pint jars filled with the delectable fruit butter.

I know we often speak in hyperbole about food, but trust me when I tell you that if you are going to can just one jam/jelly/fruit butter this year, it needs to be Cranberry Butter.  The best part is that cranberries aren't readily available until autumn which means you are canning when it is no longer 95 degrees outside. 

So if you have a bag or two of cranberries in your freezer that you were hoarding from this autumn's haul, pull them out and make something truly special.  You can use this in place of cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, as a unique spread on a turkey sandwich, or for toast and cookies.  It makes a beautiful and unusual gift since most people have never heard of Cranberry Butter.

*Crapple Sauce: The little-known concoction of cranberry butter mixed with apple sauce and canned to create a delightful pink sauce with a sweet-tart edge.

Cranberry Butter
adapted from Blue Ribbon Preserves by Linda J. Amendt

Yield: about 4 half-pint jars

2 12-oz packages cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup water
zested peel of 1 lemon
zested peel of 1 orange
3 cups sugar (can adjust slightly to taste)
1-2 teaspoons powdered ginger

In an 8-qt pan, combine cranberries, water, orange zest, and lemon zest.

Over medium heat, bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until all the berries have popped and are soft, 15-20 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Remove pan from heat. Skim foam.

Press mixture (berries and juice) through a food mill or fine-mesh sieve. Discard skins and seeds. Rinse and dry pan. Return cranberry pulp to pan. Stir in sugar.

Over med-low heat, heat the mixture, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase heat to medium and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer until thick, 10-15 minutes. Stir constantly to prevent sticking or scorching. Remove pan from heat, skim foam.

Ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process half-pint jars for 10 minutes, pint jars for 15 minutes.


Rachel (Hounds in the Kitchen) said...

I just happen to have a few bags of cranberries and am almost out of strawberry jam. I'm going to try this recipe soon!

grace said...

this must be positively divine. i think your use of heavenly must be spot-on.
and by the way--crapple might just be my new favorite word. :)