Thursday, November 27, 2014

Please Pass the Cranberry Sauce!

A great big hello to everyone on this fine Thanksgiving Day! Hopefully, you have sat down on your couch, unbuckled your pants and are beginning to relax. It's been a long day! Now that the big feast is over with, I thought I'd quickly discuss one aspect of our annual Thanksgiving meal that might be easily overlooked...

the jellied cranberry sauce.

Back in the 1930's, newly developed technology allowed for cranberries to be harvested in a wet manner versus the traditional dry picking method. Bogs which held the cranberry bushes could be flooded, then easily harvested for the tart berries. Because of this, the life span of the cranberry was extended late into the fall. By canning the cranberries, they could be enjoyed a greater deal of time beyond their peak season. Hence, cranberry sauce became a fixture at the Thanksgiving meal all due to two simple factors - availability and marketing.

The Ocean Spray cooperative, which famously operates to this day by the same name, was founded around the same time as wet harvesting began to see use. With cranberries being available much later in the year, they put a crack marketing team to work and made sure folks knew to serve their jellied cranberry sauce at their next holiday meal.

How does the gelatinous cranberry sauce become jellied, you ask? Well, pectin is a naturally occurring component in cranberries. The cans are filled with a liquid cranberry slurry while still hot, which then turns to jelly as the mixture cools. That's why cranberry sauce molds itself to the shape of the can!

Having trouble getting cranberry sauce out of its can? Use a blunt butter knife! Insert it at the edge of the jelly where it meets the can and release the vacuum seal. It should then shake right out.

Cranberry sauce - some people love it, some people hate it. Either way, it's a marvel of Twentieth Century food science!

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