Cranberry Relish: Chill while your freezer does the work

‘Fast to the Table Freezer Cookbook’
‘Fast to the Table Freezer Cookbook’

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One of my favorite scenes from "The Simpsons" is when Bart watches the jellied cranberry sauce slowly slide out of the can and plop onto a dish. "Ah, cranberry sauce ala Bart!" he exclaims ("Bart Vs. Thanksgiving," The Simpsons Season 2, Episode 7).

That plate of ridged ruby-colored discs passed around the Thanksgiving table is something that has bonded generations of Americans. It’s obligatory to take a slice, which is typically relegated to a less-than-prime location on the dinner plate.

But once I tried fresh cranberries, I’ve never gone back to the canned jellied version. I know I’m on shaky ground with a lot of readers who can’t imagine finding the time to make one more thing on Thanksgiving Day. I certainly don’t want to mess up anybody’s rhythm while baking pies, mashing potatoes, and stuffing and basting turkeys, but I have to say, fresh cranberries are THE way to go.

For the past 10 or so years, I’ve always cooked fresh berries in water and sugar, oftentimes adding a package of some berry-flavored red gelatin. But this year I’m making something that’s even better, using raw cranberries. The recipe’s super-simple and can be made ahead of time because the sauce freezes beautifully. I have some in my freezer right now!

Even more beautiful is that it takes no effort to thaw — just remember to put it in the fridge the night before. On Thanksgiving Day, the only effort required is to dump the thawed sauce out of a plastic freezer bag and into a serving dish. So simple even Bart wouldn’t complain about the work. The result is a visually pretty relish that had a pleasantly light crunchy texture and a tiny bit of heat. It’s different, but once you have a couple bites, it may become addictive.


1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

Juice and zest of 1 lime

1 red jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and finely diced

1/4 large red onion, diced

Place the cranberries, sugar, lime juice and lime zest in a food processor and pulse just until the cranberries are shredded. Add the jalapeno and red onion and pulse just a few more times to combine. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature, to let sugars dissolve (the sauce will start to get more juicy when the sugar is dissolved).

To freeze: Dive and portion into freezer-save resealable plastic bags and lay flat in the freezer. The cranberry relish will last 2 months in the freezer. To thaw, place in the fridge overnight or submerge the frozen bag of sauce in a bowl of cold water.

From the book: "Fast to the Table Freezer Cookbook: Freezer-Friendly Recipes & Frozen Food Shortcuts" by Becky Rosenthal; 224 pages, $27.95. Published by Countryman, 2016.

What you get: In addition to recipes for breakfast, appetizers and side dishes, soups, main dishes and desserts, this book includes freezing basics and recipes for standard sauces and stocks.

In her own words: "My hope is that by using your freezer more, and more effectively, you'll be able to share your food, save time and money, and not let anything go to waste." — Becky Rosenthal

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