Traditional cuisine the world over is naturally imbued with herbal medicine, and you can usually find it in the condiments. In my humble opinion, condiments are the cornerstones of a meal, and what really makes the meal worth eating. Salsa, chutney, horseradish cream, mint jelly, harissa, pesto, hot sauce, wasabi, zaatar, etc. are all examples of vehicles of flavor with medicinal attributes. While ‘traditional’ American cuisine is harder to pin down, there is one condiment we can say is fully American: cranberry sauce.
This time of year, we collectively break out the cranberry sauce to accompany giant holiday meals. While cranberries are native to North America and were eaten by indegenious people for millennia- their original habitats were far from the cranberry bogs we think of now. The cranberry bog is a recent agricultural invention. Therefore, cranberry sauce at every table is also a recent invention. For ag/farming/plant nerds, the cranberry story is worth a deep dive.
Suffice it to say, what is traditional about cranberry sauce is how it fits into an established culinary niche. The dollop of sweet, acidic and herbal help the bod digest the other richer, denser, more fibrous parts of the meal.
To me, the platform of the condiment is just begging to have the herbal volume turned up. Cranberries, already exceptionally high in antioxidants which support the bod in myriad ways, create an incredible base for even more flavor and medicinal additions.
This recipe incorporates herbs that boost flavor, digestibility and your immune system!
I’m staying loose with amounts to give flavor ratios a bit more room for your preference…
Whole mandarins, and or orange and or lemon
Chili (I like a little kick in my cranberry sauce)
Dried rose hips
Honey (or sweetener of choice)
Other herb ideas:
DROP doses of rose geranium essential oil (I usually make a rose cranberry sauce as a winter meal staple)
Etc, etc, etc
Wash cranberries and citrus. Slice the whole citrus finely, composting any seeds. Finely chop ginger and chilis.
Add cranberries, citrus and herbs to a pot and add enough water to almost cover the mixture. Cook covered at a simmer for at least 20 minutes, mashing the cranberries along the way.
Once the mixture has achieved saucy, take it off the heat. At this point you can either keep it chunky, or blend with a stick blender. If you choose the latter, get your apron on, honey! (I spent the day I made this oblivious to being speckled with neon pink.) Now add your sweetener to taste.
This is where the kudzu, my recent obsession, enters. Kudzu starch thickens in such a nice ooey gooey way and actually gives the stomach lining some love, and we all need stomach lining love. I’ve been making fruit compote galore with the help of kudzu starch. My only Q: when the heck is someone going to start a small business selling high vibe, USA based, kudzu starch??? BTW, kudzu is literally taking over the South…
Future Fat the Moon plant project….?
Start with a tablespoon of kudzu starch for about 2 cups of sauce. Add cool water to the starch and mix until dissolved. Then stir into your cranberry sauce over low heat until the sauce thickens.
Now jar on up, or serve with nut butter and homemade bread. I’m eating cranberry sauce with everything these days!
Store in the fridge.