Spiced sweet/tart pickled cranberries are a fresh and flavorful alternative to cranberry sauce this year.
Here we are again at that time of year, the time of year that cranberries start popping up everywhere at the market . Those little red berries certainly experience a boost in popularity during November and December, they show up in cakes and cocktails and are a fixture at holiday meals, but have you ever had a pickled cranberry?
If you think pickling is just for vegetables, think again. Pickling cranberries concentrates their bright color and sweet/tart flavor and creates a two for one concoction that makes a fantastic accompaniment to any meal (or drink) this holiday season. With hardly any time or effort you can make a few jars of pickled cranberries that will take you well into the winter months (no need to relegate them to just the traditional holiday feast.)
You’d think pickling would make the tartness of the cranberries unbearable, but it has quite the opposite effect, taming the somewhat acerbic nature of the fresh berries and amplifying all their best qualities. The pickled cranberries are sweet and sour with a nice tang and make a fresh and unique alternative to cranberry sauce.
The cranberries are macerated in a mixture of pomegranate vinegar, maple syrup and warming fall spices like cinnamon, star anise and vanilla. The longer they sit the deeper the flavor, so if you have time to make these a few days or week ahead, they’ll be all the better.
Once the big day is over, those pickled cranberries keep on giving. They make a wonderful accompaniment to a cheese platter, are right at home in a salad or sandwich and don’t forget the brining liquid (essentially a shrub) which makes a terrific vinaigrette when whisked together with olive oil or a refreshing non-alcoholic cocktail when stirred into sparkling water.
If you’re looking for a departure from ho-hum cranberry sauce this year, a festive jar of these pickled cranberries are the answer!
(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Find out what that means for you here.)