About halfway through last winter, my sweetheart and I ran out of cranberries in the freezer. Because we love to make a cranberry “compote” to put in our oatmeal, this was a serious problem!
Up until this time, it had never really occurred to me that stores did not carry cranberries except during the Thanksgiving-Christmas holiday season. So, when I wanted cranberries in March, I had a long wait coming …
This year, we will be better prepared for a long winter of oatmeal and other cran-goodness. Pre-Halloween, stores already have cranberries in the produce section; and we have purchased several of the largest bags available to vacuum seal and freeze.
Because not all of the cranberries in any given bag are perfect, be sure to sort through them and remove any spoiled or drastically under-ripe berries. It is obvious that they pick all berries on the plants at the same time – they range from not even beginning to be ripe all the way to so ripe they are beginning to rot.
We chose to pack two-cup servings. This seems to be just the right amount to pop into a skillet with some homemade butter, honey and cinnamon. We fry them until they are soft, but not totally mush, to serve in oatmeal or on a chef salad. To prepare the sorted berries for vacuum sealing, we put them in water in a two-cup Pyrex pitcher for a few minutes, then rinse and drain them in a colander.
I always put the berries in the vacuum bag and freeze them prior to sealing the bag. This eliminates any problem with liquid from the berries pulling up to keep it from sealing. If you don’t own a vacuum sealer, you should be able to seal them in zippered freezer bags (make sure you squeeze as much air out as possible before the final seal) or wrap them in plastic wrap and then waxed freezer wrap for long-term storage.
Another favorite way to serve cranberries (we did this just a few days ago to serve with a smoked pork tenderloin) is to include diced apples and sweet onions. You can even add cayenne or jalapeno if you “like it hot” for a savory application like serving with meat.
Nutrition data may be found here: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1875/2
What am I going to try next with cranberries? We thoroughly enjoy making a compote of rhubarb and homemade hot pepper jelly. It would seem to me that cranberries and homemade hot pepper jelly stir fried in butter should be equally as good!
And don’t forget – your side-by-side refrigerator/freezer was not designed for long-term storage, especially if it is self-defrosting. Self-defrosting freezers get defrosted via dehydration. While it is dehydrating the frost in your freezer, it will also dehydrate your stored foods.