Spices, apples and cranberries are the quintessential elements of autumn and the holidays. They are as much a part of the season as the hues of the leaves and the chilling weather; encompassing the colors, fragrance and the warmth. I have brought them together in one little jar and it is here to stay with us for a couple of weeks. Fresh apples and cranberries are muddled, stirred and simmered down along with orange zest and spices.
While the traditional Thanksgiving spread is unthinkable without the cranberry jelly and the turkey, I like to do mine a little differently. I have no obligation to follow the “rules” of the day, nor do I have to feed a conservative generation who would nod disapproval at the sight of a well spiced Cranberry Apple Jam Chutney along with the Murgh Tikka/the Spiced Skewered Chicken, instead of a roasted turkey.
There is something so very comforting and satisfying cooking with the apples and the spices. When making a jam or a chutney with apples, I try to pick different varieties which add the intense complexity of taste and flavors.
Fall arrives late in Texas. We have been waiting for the fresh cranberries and the other day my daughter squeaked when she spotted the pile on the shelves!
The next day we had the spices, ginger and the berries simmering away in all their glory, emitting the irresistible perfume of the season. Soon the cranberries started to “pop” – cuteness… In went the apples, and in an hour we had the warm jellied red sticky delicious bottle full.
Good to go with bread, crackers, on cheese, as a side and of course it would not fail the turkey.
We have no family here, but we have a lot to be thankful about. I do miss my clan and tend to get a little misty eyed when I see the lines of car parked in front of every house in the neighborhood. I can almost hear the laughter and see the excitement as everyone sits around a long table and enjoys the company and family love. But we have good friends whom I would love to call more than a family.. friends who are here for us even in the middle of the night if we need them. And it is with them that we share our Thanksgiving.
There is some but not much traditional food involved here. It is mostly a fusion of cuisine as we all hail from different places.
What is it but a time to remember our blessings and love? And that we do in good company over a table spread with different colors and diversity and sparked by smiles and laughter.
Have a great Thanksgiving!!
Spiced Cranberry Apple Jam/Chutney
Ingredients:(makes about 2.5 cups)
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 3 large apples, any kind (you may use a mix of varieties)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup juice (orange/apple/ or cranberry) or apple cider
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 dry red whole chili pepper
- spices, whatever you want and however much you want (I have used powdered cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper)
- 1/2 tablespoon ginger juice, (grate the ginger and press out the juice)
- 1/2 tablespoon citrus zest (orange/lemon/any kind you want)
- 2 cup granulated sugar, or as needed
Peel, core and dice the apples.
Heat the oil in the pot. Add the chili pepper and cook it for a couple of minutes until it turns brown on both sides. You will sense the smoky aroma.
In the same pot, combine water, lemon juice, spices, orange/apple/cranberry juice or cider and cranberries in a heavy bottomed pot. Cook on the stove until the liquid starts to boil and the cranberries start to pop, about 15 minutes.
Add ginger juice, zest and apples to the pot and cook/simmer until the apples soften and start to mush up. This could take 45 minutes to more than an hour. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and scorching. When the apples are soft and the liquid reduces, add the sugar and simmer until the liquid gets syrupy and thick. This might take another 20 to 30 more minutes.
You will know when the jam coats the back of a spoon well and drips down very slowly. (or do the Jam Test- explained in a previous post).
Keep in mind that the jam will get a bit more concentrated/dense as it sits for longer. So do not dry it out entirely or over cook it, as it will harden like candy with overcooking.
Cool and store/can in a sterilized jar in the refrigerator. It will store for a few weeks.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hr 30 min – 2 hrs
Serve it as a side/chutney/jam with meals or on bread/cracker and cheese. Make a sweet and spicy sauce with it.