While most people associate Massachusetts as cranberry bog haven, wild cranberries can be found on low-lying bushes throughout the Adirondacks up through to Canada near streams and ponds. Harvested in the fall, this vibrant fruit is a rich source of vitamin C and a welcome staple at many holiday tables.
Native Americans were probably the first in our region to use cranberries as food, especially in their preparation of high-energy pemmican, made by drying a mixture of venison (or other meats) and fruit. Now, we not only see cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, but bake with the fruit, adding them to cakes or muffins, and snack on the dried, sweetened variety.
For cooking inspiration, Adirondack Life’s Northern Comfort cookbook (with recipes from 40 years of the magazine’s publication), provides more than a few ways to employ cranberries or pair them with other flavors throughout the season.
A cranberry pie, paired with apple in a crumb cake, a cooked maple-cranberry relish, and a cranberry, apple, and orange relish – all offer bright flavors and colors with a burst of sweet and tart for your Thanksgiving table.
Below, you’ll find a recipe for a holiday relish inspired by flavors of the region and Northern Comfort.
Adirondack Cranberry Citrus Compote
This can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated, giving you a jump-start on the holiday meal preparations, however wait to add the maple syrup and/or sugar until you’re ready to serve.
12 ounces (approximately 3 cups) cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 seedless orange, quartered and sliced into 16 pieces
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
¼ cup maple syrup
up to ¼ cup granulated sugar
Place the cranberries, orange and apple pieces in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for approximately 10-12 seconds. Remove compote to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add maple syrup and taste for sweetness. Add additional syrup or granulated sugar, to taste.
Annette Nielsen is a food writer, editor, community organizer and activist on behalf of regional agriculture. She recently edited Northern Comfort and Northern Bounty, two seasonally-based cookbooks for Adirondack Life Magazine. A native of Northville, she lives in Salem, New York with her husband and son.