Homemade Cranberry Jelly

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The tartness of cranberry perfects a holiday meal because it activates the taste buds in ways that other foods cannot. That’s why your holiday turkey meal is never complete without cranberries. You can serve cranberry juice, cranberry sauce, cranberry salad, or cranberry jelly at this important meal; whatever recipe you choose will be perfectly fine.

While most people will opt for cranberry sauce straight out of the can, others want to get a little exotic and serve homemade cranberry jelly. Although most people are unfamiliar with recipes to make it from scratch, it’s actually pretty easy. You’ll need whole cranberries and a blender or juicer.

To start your recipe and create it from scratch, think about the final taste: sweet. So to take a tart cranberry and make it sweet, you’ll no doubt have to add something sweet to it. You could add sugar or honey. But while you’re deciding on what to include in the recipe, why not consider adding another fruit to the cranberry to boost the flavor, tone down the cranberry and smooth out the sweetness? Some possible ideas are red delicious apples, apricot, pear, pineapple or even a very ripe and mushy persimmon.

Now get to work. If you’re using your juicer, juice the cranberries with the sweet fruit. Your ratio would be about 1 pound of cranberries to 3 red delicious apples, 5 ripe apricots, 2 ripe pears, 1/2 to 3/4 cup pineapple (crushed, chunked and canned or fresh), and 2 persimmons. Choose only one of these options unless you half the amounts of two different choices. After mixing the juice from these fruits, taste the juice. Does it taste sweet? If not, add about 1/4 cup honey, a few tablespoons sugar or 5 drops liquid stevia extract with a tablespoon honey. Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate. This amount of sweetness will not hurt a diabetic!

Next take the pulp and pull out any big chunks of fruit that didn’t get pulverized. You’re goal is to collect about 1/2 to 3/4 cup fiber, then place it into a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons honey to the mixture and about 4 to 6 oz. water. Mix thoroughly. Place the mixture in a small white baking dish for desserts, compressing it to fill the dish. Then turn it upside down onto a small saucer, placing the homemade cranberry jelly in the middle of the plate. Add a mint leaf and you’re finished. You may also want to sprinkle lemon juice on top of it.

Only one tablespoon of this lovely homemade cranberry jelly is all that’s needed to satisfy the taste buds during your holiday meal. Wait for the compliments to come rolling in!

By the way, you can also serve that refrigerated juice with the holiday meal. Serve either in shot glasses or in very small juice glasses, or get extra fancy and serve in a margarita glass filled with ice. Don’t forget a lemon wedge!

By Dr. Donna Schwontkowski (ret.), gourmet food writer

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