Pages Navigation Menu
Categories Navigation Menu

Seasonal Eats: Cranberries

cranberrysaucespoonCranberries are intrinsically connected to Thanksgiving, whether as part of a slithery jelly that’s been slipped out of a can, or freshly simmered on the stove into a rustic holiday relish.  You can also find them in limited capacity throughout the year, as scarlet-red juice, dehydrated Craisins, or orange-scented muffins, where they add a welcome pop of texture and sweet-tart flavor.  But why restrict your consumption of cranberries to the most basic and expected dishes?

Especially now that the nutrient-rich superfruit is at the height of its season (appearing at markets from October to December), restaurants are taking full advantage, incorporating cranberries throughout their menus in all sorts of interesting ways.

DBGB Kitchen and Bar explores the sweeter side of cranberries with their holiday-appropriate Pumpkin Spice Sundae, topped with Marshmallow, Pie Crust, Candied Cranberries, Butterscotch and Whipped Cream.  Feel like doing brunch?  Marc Murphy’s new Midtown eatery, Kingside, tucked inside the newly minted Viceroy Hotel, is a great new option, especially if you order their Artisanal Granola with homemade Cranberry Yogurt.   At Harold Dieterle’s chummy West Village favorite, Perilla, you’ll find Dried Cranberries in the salad, lending a hit of concentrated sweetness to a cool weather mélange of Roasted Brussels Sprouts Leaves, Toasted Nuts and Raisins.  And at the Barcelona-inspired tapas joint, Casa Mono, Andy Nusser combines acidic Cranberries and smoky Bacon into a savory Mermelada to accompany Chicken Liver.  Or take the cocktail list at the opulent, new restaurant in The Palace Hotel, Villard Michel Richard.  While there isn’t any cranberry juice in the “Chute de Peche,” a Calvados, Amaro and Peach Liqueur-based tipple, the drink is garnished with a skewer of Sugared Cranberries. Cranberries are part of an elegant, vegetarian main course at Greenpoint’s recently opened Mediterranean eatery, Glasserie, dotting a plate of Sweet Potato Dumplings and roasted Hen of the Woods Mushrooms.

200269514649220482DFEae1qFcAutumn is also an excellent time to experiment with cranberries at home, when you stand the greatest chance of finding fruit that doesn’t come out of a plastic Ocean Spray bag.  When purchasing fresh cranberries, firmness is a primary indicator of quality.  In fact, during harvesting, the best berries are often sorted from lesser fruits by bouncing them against barriers made of slanted boards.  The healthiest berries bounce over the barriers, while the inferior ones collect in the reject pile.  Not that you should get into the habit of hurling cranberries throughout the farmers market.  You can also go by color when selecting cranberries, because the redder they are, the higher their concentration is of beneficial anthocyanin compounds.

Fresh, ripe cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 20 days.  Before storing, discard any soft, discolored or shriveled fruits.  To freeze, spread fresh cranberries out on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer.  In a couple of hours, the fully frozen berries will be ready to transfer to a freezer bag.  Once frozen, cranberries may be kept for several years. When using frozen berries in recipes that don’t require cooking, thaw well and drain prior to using.  For cooked recipes, use unthawed berries to ensure maximum flavor.  Extend the cooking time by a few minutes to accommodate for the frozen berries.

P1070759Cranberries are normally considered too sharp to be eaten plain and raw, as they are not only sour, but bitter as well.  You can actually take advantage of cranberries’ tartness by using them to replace vinegar or lemon when dressing green salads.  Toss the greens with a little olive oil and then add color and zest with a handful of raw cranberries.  To balance their flavor, combine fresh cranberries with other fruits, such as oranges, apples, pineapple or pears.  Or bump up their sweetness just slightly by mixing in a little fruit juice, honey or maple syrup.

Quickly add color, variety and a whole lot of extra antioxidants to recipes for pudding, cookies or muffins by using dried cranberries instead of raisins.  You can also sprinkle handfuls of dried cranberries over a bowl of hot oatmeal or cold cereal, or mix with lightly roasted and salted nuts for a delicious and healthful snack.  Or whip up a batch of candied cranberries, which make a gorgeous garnish for cocktails, or a decoration for cakes.  Just dip them in simple syrup, roll in superfine sugar, and let stand on a parchment covered baking sheet until dry, about two hours.

IMG_0637Try mixing fresh or dried cranberries with wild rice, pecans and fresh thyme as an accompaniment to roasted chicken, turkey or pork, or a stuffing for succulent winter squash.  You can even throw cranberries into a food processor with red onion, jalapeno, a touch of brown sugar and lime juice to make a vibrant salsa for chips, or a topping for crusty, goat cheese-slathered crostinis.  And that’s just for starters: With a fruit so surprisingly versatile, there’s no reason to get stuck in a cranberry rut with quick breads and compotes this year!

124 W 57th St., btwn. Avenue Of The Americas and 7th Ave.
(212) 707-8000

DBGB Kitchen and Bar
299 Bowery., btwn. Houston and 1st Sts.
(212) 933-5300

Villard Michel Richard
455 Madison Ave., btwn. 50th and 51st Sts.
(212) 891-8100

9 Jones St., btwn. 4th and Bleecker Sts.
(212) 929-6868

Casa Mono
52 Irving Pl., btwn. 17th St and 18th Sts.
(212) 253-2773

95 Commercial St., btwn. Box and Ash Sts.
(718) 389-0640

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *