One of the highlights from our time in Massachusetts in June was touring a cranberry bog. It was really interesting and we learned so much about cranberries. Of course, we were several months too early to see the harvest, which is typically mid-September to early-November. If you are anywhere near the Bay State, many Massachusetts cranberry growers are offering public bog tours right now!
The wonderful people of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association (CCCGA) sent me a box of freshly harvested cranberries last week. What a treat! We don't get fresh cranberries around here, except in bags at the grocery store right before Thanksgiving. I freeze those so that I can have cranberries whenever I want, but nothing beats fresh. Look at these beauties!
The CCCGA website (cranberries.org) has dozens of cranberry recipes that I've been eager to try. Some use dried cranberries or cranberry juice, but since those are easily accessible year-round, I focused on recipes that feature fresh berries. With a plan in place, I invited friends over and cooked up a cranberry-themed dinner.
Many of the recipes start by cooking the cranberries in a small amount of water. I love watching (and hearing) them pop!
For the main course, I served ham with Cranberry Maple Pan Sauce. The original recipe uses pork chops, but I traded one form of pork for another. It was delicious - a perfect balance of sweet and savory, with the right amount of tang. More than one person spooned the pan sauce over their baked potatoes and steamed broccoli, the two non-cranberry sides that I served!
This 5-Minute Cranberry Sauce couldn't be easier and is so good. I've never put lemon juice in my cranberry sauce before and now I'm never going to do it any other way.
These Cranberry Rangoons are listed as an appetizer, but I served them with the rest of the meal. The filling is delicious and very unexpected. I didn't love the way the wonton wrappers dried out in the oven, so next time I'll be frying them so that they're golden and crispy.
Dessert was Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies. Yum!! They have walnuts as well, which provide such a great crunch and a contrast to the chewy cranberries. Both pair so well with chocolate.
The inspiration for our drinks came from the Cranberry Mojitos recipe. I removed the alcohol to make it kid-friendly, tweaked the recipe a bit, and renamed the drink.
To make a Cranberry Faux-Mo, put a sprig of fresh mint and a scant teaspoon of sugar into a glass. Muddle them together to release the mint flavor. Remove the mint. Add equal parts of cranberry juice and limeade. Garnish with fresh cranberries and another mint sprig.
Our dinner was fantastic and it was so much fun to try out all the recipes. But I didn't stop there. I had more fresh cranberries to use and more recipes I wanted to try. So far, I've made Cranberry Sorbet...
..... and Cranberry Mousse. Soooo good!
There are a lot more recipes at cranberry.org that I am eager to try. I'm out of fresh cranberries, so I'll have to stick with the recipes that use dried cranberries or cranberry juice for now. But as soon as I get my hands on more fresh cranberries, I'll have to decide which of the recipes to try next!
If you live in a place where cranberries grow, shop local! You can find a list of growers in and around Massachusetts on the CCCGA website. Thanks again to the CCCGA for the delicious cranberries!