The redder the better. As you prepare your next holiday feast, make sure the cranberries for your sauce are colour-rich, for flavour and flavonoids.
It was Mary Ann Lila, director of North Carolina State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute, whointroduced me to xenohormes: the study of molecules such as plant polyphenols (indicate stress in the plants) and how such flavonoids can have “longevity-conferring effects for consumers of those plants.” We were speaking about berries back in 2013 and why those that grow in northern climates are better as they develop protective compounds to contend with cooler temperatures, among other things.
A drop in temperature is exactly what cranberry farmers like Janina May and her son Jean-Pierre Schneider wait for.Crops aren’t picked, or rather the bogs aren’t flooded until as late as mid-November to give the berries time to develop that rich cranberry colour – an indicator of the perfect tart flavour and also of proanthocyanidins (PACs). The berries develop this protective polyphenol in response to cooling temperatures, and their PAC levels increase as the season continues. “It means I can sleep longer,” laughs Schneider who monitors temperatures 24-7 this time of year via a smartphone app. He says as the weather gets cooler and cooler, the berries get heartier and heartier, which means less middle-of-the-night alerts to warm them up by sprinkling their bogs with warm water.
Schneider’s family farm, located northeast of Montreal, is one of more than 100 Canadian cranberry growers for Ocean Spray. The co-operative, not company, was founded85 years ago by three American growers who pooled resources to get the word out about the bog berry. Nearly a century later, you can find cranberry mixed with just about every type of juice, Cranberry-Mango being the latest Ocean Spray blend. And to demonstrate just how versatile the cranberries can be, Ocean Spray hosted a pre-Thanksgiving lunch for media at Toronto’s L’Unitarestaurant (lunita.ca). We sampled everything from Cranberry Pork Belly Spiedini to Cranberry & Mascarpone Cannoli and, yes, fresh Cranberry Sauce made an appearance for the turkey main course.
“Bog boots” counted for some of the conversation as we oohed and aahed through the courses. Schneider has a weather-dependent collection of varying insulation degrees,and Kellyanne Dignan, senior manager of communications for Ocean Spray, keeps pairs all over. It’s easier than having to wash and pack them up after site visits – after all, there are 700-plus farms in North America and Chile that currently make up the co-op. Colour is all the talk this time of year, says Dignan, and noted that the happy accident from the rich pigment Ocean Spray demands is the PACs. Happy accident indeed as the PACs in cranberries may help prevent bacterial infections, especially urinary tract infections, and are being studied for cardiovascular health and cancer treatment. Pass the cranberry sauce!
Try the following recipes courtesy of Ocean Spray (www.oceanspray.ca).
1 can (348 mL) Ocean Spray Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
1/4 cup (50 mL) sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) red wine vinegar
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced into rings
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh basil, minced
1 tsp (5 mL) oregano
1 loaf french bread, cut into 3/4 inch (18 mm) slices (16 slices per loaf)
Combine all ingredients, except bread and oil, in a medium saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is limp and sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes.
Let cool to room temperature. Cut bread diagonally into ¾-inch (18 mm) slices; brush both sides with oil. Broil both sides for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown.
Top each slice with 1 tbsp (15 mL) of cranberry mixture. Makes 16 servings.
Roast Turkey with Cranberry Honey Glaze
1 cup (250 mL) Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce
1/4 cup (50 mL) honey
1 8- to 12-lb (3.5 to 4.5 kg) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
Combine cranberry sauce and honey in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until sauce is smooth, whisking frequently. Set aside. Makes about 1 cup (250 mL).
Be sure turkey is completely thawed. Remove from original wrapper and remove neck and giblets from cavities. Rinse turkey thoroughly with cold water; drain and pat dry with paper towels. Tuck wing tips under back or tie to body. Refasten drumsticks with metal or plastic clip or band of skin. Preheat oven to 325 F (160 C).
Thinly slice 1 lemon. Loosen the skin of the turkey towardthe front of the breast. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, gently slide lemon slices under skin on both sides of turkey.
Place turkey breast-side up on wire rack in shallow roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer into the thickest part of the inner thigh; do not let thermometer touch bone. Liberally brush with cranberry-honey glaze.
Roast turkey uncovered until skin reaches desired brown color; cover loosely with a tent of aluminum foil for remaining time. Continue to baste with cranberry honey glaze during cooking. Roast until thermometer reaches 170F (77 C), approximately 2-3/4 to 3 hours. Remove from oven; let stand 20 minutes before carving.
Makes 12 to 16 servings.
The following information is provided courtesy of the Canadian Turkey Marketing Agency (www.turkeyfordinner.ca)
Preparation – Cooking Times and Temperatures
NOTE: Cooking times may vary depending on: the temperature of the bird going into the oven, the accuracy of the oven’s thermostat, how many times the oven door is opened during roasting, the size of the turkey in relation to the size of the oven.
Pre-heat oven to 325 F (160 C)
6 – 8 lb (3.0 – 3.5 kg) 3 – 3 ¼ hours/2 ½ – 2 ¾ hours
8 – 10 lb (3.5 – 4.5 kg) 3 ¼ – 3 ½ hours/2 ¾ – 3 hours
10 – 12 lb (4.5 – 5.5 kg) 3 ½ – 3 ¾ hours/3 – 3 ¼ hours
12 – 16 lb (5.5 – 7.0 kg) 3 ¾ – 4 hours/3 ¼ – 3 ½ hours
16 – 22 lb (7.0 – 10.0 kg) 4 – 4 ½ hours/3 ½ – 4 hours
For an unstuffed whole turkey, breasts or large thighs, the thermometer should read 170 F (77 C). For a stuffed turkey, the thermometer should read 180 F (82 C) and the juices run clear. Also, measure the stuffing in the cavity. The thermometer should read at least 165 F (74 C). Let the bird stand 15 to 20 minutes before removing all of the stuffing to a bowl and carving.
Cranberry Orange Stuffing Cakes
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
1/2 cup (125 mL) Ocean Spray Craisins Dried Cranberries
1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped onion
1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped celery
4 tsp (20 mL) dried sage leaves
1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper
3 cups (750 mL) coarse fresh bread crumbs
1 cup (250 mL) shredded aged Cheddar cheese
2 tbsp (30 mL) orange juice
1/2 cup (125 mL) Ocean Spray Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
2 tsp (10 mL) finely grated orange zest
Heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) each butter and oil in a large, nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Add the Craisins, onion and celery; cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook stirring for 2 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Toss bread crumbs and Cheddar cheese with the cranberry mixture. Whisk the eggs with the orange juice. Pour over the bread; toss to moisten. Firmly form the mixture into 16 small round cakes.
Heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) each butter and oil in a nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Add a single layer of cakes to the pan. Cook, pressing often with a spatula, for 2 minutes per side, or until golden. Repeat, adding additional butter and oil as needed. Keep warm.
Stir the cranberry sauce with the orange zest in a microwave-safe bowl; heat on High in the microwave for 60 seconds. Stir well. Serve the warm stuffing cakes with a dollop of cranberry sauce.
Makes 16 cakes.
Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecans
1 ½ lbs (750 g) fresh brussels sprouts
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup (60 mL) chopped pecans, toasted
¼ cup (60 mL) Ocean Spray Craisins Dried Cranberries
Salt and pepper
Trim stems of brussels sprouts and remove any damaged leaves. Place brussels sprouts in saucepan; add water to just cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 8-10 minutes until tender. Drain; keep warm.
In the meantime, toast pecans. Place nuts in single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 3 to 5 minutes or until light golden brown, watching carefully.
Melt butter in same saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook and stir 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in brussels sprouts, pecans and Craisins; toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
Makes 6 servings.