I’m a fan of fresh cranberries, but they’re only really available for a couple months each year. When I see them in season, I admit I get a little excited. I like to make cranberry sauce, and a quick cranberry-walnut cake, and cranberry cinnamon yeasted bread. I like to use the cranberry syrup in drinks, like lemonade. Or a cosmo, which is what I’m enjoying right now. Tonight I just dropped an actually cranberry from a jar of sauce into the top of my drink. So pretty and red, like the pupil of an evil eye.
This past summer, I finally got a proper canning pot and rack. We put in some new garden boxes last spring, and I fantasized about putting up food from my own dirt for winter. I was no doubt inspired by feelings of looming apocalypse, in the face of COVID-19. I anticipated some extra tomatoes from our garden and I thought I’d make salsa, and can some whole tomatoes for winter, and that sort of thing. I never did put any tomatoes in jars, but I made a bunch of pickles with cucumbers from the garden. A fruit truck pulled through town and I bought a couple huge boxes of peaches and blueberries from Georgia or someplace like that (no fake blueberries or fraudulent peaches in the lot, I swear, they were legit), so I made blueberry jam and blueberry syrup, and I canned peaches in syrup and also canned some of the peach syrup.
When cranberries appeared on my grocery produce shelves a few weeks before Thanksgiving this year, I experienced my usual excitement. I bought some and made cake and bread, and I wondered what special odd ingredients I would put in my cranberry sauce this year. A good week or more passed before I realized that I could… CAN MY CRANBERRY SAUCE.
This epiphany made me giggle and clasp my hands together and hop up and down, as I imagined grilling a steak in summer and putting my own, actual homemade cranberry sauce on it. So that’s what I did around Thanksgiving time, I canned a bunch of cranberry sauce and syrup.
Here, let me show you how good they look.
Oh oh, here are a few more that didn’t fit on the top shelf, and next to them are some of my other home-canned goods.
You might notice that there’s a one-off jar perched atop beautiful peaches, looking awfully gross. That, my friend, is rhubarb jam. Maybe it’s rhubarb peach. I don’t remember, and I’m bad about labelling. I better work on that. Anyway, I’m afraid to open it and try it, because it looks nasty. But we grew the rhubarb in our yard, and I suspect it’ll taste fine. I think I also spy some mango chili jam. Huh. I forgot about that. Good thing I took this pic.
Right, so I’m grateful today about the canning equipment and cranberries and the canned goodness in my dank cellar. I’ll probably forget what I canned and when I canned it, and someday a few years from now I’ll probably pop one of these babies open and give myself salmonella poisoning, or botulism, or whatever it is that kills us when we eat badly canned foods. But until then: grateful.