Hey there, everybody.
So you may recall (or not) that, one year ago today, I did a guest-post over at Charmed, I’m Sure that featured my (addapted not-very-far from Nigella Lawson’s) recipe for Cranberry Curd.
Basically, I’m trying to find ways of using vinegar, temperate-climate sour fruit, and other locally-produceable Sour Stuff in lieu of lemon juice (and other citrus) when I’m cooking.
This is not always easy, but it can definitely be done.
Being a lover of the sour stuff, and a lover of the creamy, eggy, not-quite-custard-like stuff that is Lemon Curd, and having a tendency to make preserves as gifts for people come Secular Xmas, I set about making cranberry curd.
This year I did things a little (only a little) differently than last year.
The main difference is that, rather than putting the stewed cranberries through a food processor, I strained them through a sieve. This takes longer, yes, and you wind up with about 2C of cranberry skins and similar that didn’t make it through the straining process, but you also wind up with a much, much smoother finished product. So I say go with the sieve option, if you can do so. 🙂
I also made a slightly bigger batch. Behold:
Cranberry Curd 2012
1.5 lbs raw cranberries (basically a bag and a half) + 1.5 C water
1 C + 0.33 C granulated sugar (separated)
0.33 C salted butter
5 eggs, well beaten
1) In a large (pasta, not sauce) pot, stew the cranberries and the water together for about 10-15 minutes, on medium-low, stirring occasionally in order to (a) break up the cranberries, and (b) prevent everything from either boiling over OR burning to the bottom of the pot.
2) When the berries are mushy and most of the water has evaporated, ladle your berries, in batches, into a sieve and strain them through the sieve’s mesh into a large bowl. By the time you’re done (about 3 batches, but you can do more if you like), you should have a bowl of very smooth cranberry purree, and a sieve full of cranberry skins and seeds and similar. (I plan to compost my skins directly, but others may be inclined to feed them to the chickens, run them through a lot of hot water to make a sort of cranberry tea, or do something else with them. Choose your own adventure).
3) After first making sure that there aren’t any errant skins or what-have-you still in the pot, return the very smooth cranberry purree to the stove and add 1C sugar, stirring until well-disolved.
4) Add the butter to the pot and turn the heat on. Stir gently until the butter is melted and the mixture feels smooth (not gritty – gritty means that there’s still undisolved sugar in there).
5) In a separate receptical (I used a glass 2C measuring cup), beat all five eggs with the separate 0.33C sugar. I used an immersion blender and it worked really well. The idea is to get a really, REALLY smoothly blended egg-and-sugar mixture, which helps to prevent a lot of the Problems that can crop up when making fruit curd (most of which are a result of the eggs curdling “wrong” or otherwise not quite getting incorporated into the fruit very well).
6) Add the egg mixture to the cranberry mixture and stir gently but briskly together until very well incorporated. Keep stirring after you’ve reached this point.
6.5) This is the point where, if you’re going to be canning this stuff – which I recommend because it’s delicious and, if you enjoy it, you’ll probably want to have multiple jars on hand – you will want to get your jars (and lids and rings) sterilized. I sterilize my jars using a boiling-water/steam bath on the stove. It’s relatively quick and you can do it while the curd is thickening up (see step seven) rather than having to plan in advance and run the dishwasher on “hot” to get your jars properly clean. This recipe makes a scant five cups so you wants five 1C jars or their equivalent on hand when you start sterilizing. 🙂
7) Continue stirring – you may find that a whisk works well here, but I just used a silicone spatula, and that worked fine. Eventually, the curd will (a) turn a marginally paler shade of dark pink, and (b) thicken up and start to bubble/boil. In theory, you aren’t supposed to let the mixture boil, BUT I find that, if it’s bubbling and popping at least a little bit, I know it’s reached the point where I feel safe and happy canning it (hot water bath) for future use. So that’s the marker I use.
8) Using a wide-mouth funnel, ladle the thickened curd into your sterilized jars, leaving a little bit of “head-room”. (With a 1C jar, I typically do this by filling the jar up to just below where the rin starts, rather than all the way up to the rim, but YMMV).
9) Cap the jars and screw on the rings. Process them, upside down, in a boiling-water/steam bath for a good ten (or a few more than ten) minutes.
10) Allow the jars to cool on a wire rack. You’ll hear the “plunk” as they seal. (If they don’t seal, then you will need to re-process them or else just store them in the fridge and use them up quickly – think a couple of weeks rather than half a year).
NOTE: Cranberries and sugar mean a good, LOW pH for this preserve. However it’s also got a lot of eggs in it, so I’m inclined to say “Use it up in six months rather than in a year”. YMMV, but that’s what I stick with. (That said, the stuff is so good, it’s easy to use up fast).
So that’s been my bit of cookery for today. Enjoy this stuff on pancakes or waffles, baked into a coffee cake, or used in place of traditional lemon curd to make dessert bars (like these ones) or in a filled cupcake or a tart.
Meliad the Birch Maiden. 🙂
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