For this post I’ve chosen to consolidate my cranberry sauces and relishes because their purpose is the same – slathering onto turkey to make it edible. We can disagree on the worthiness of turkey if you’d like but we can all agree that cranberry condiments are necessary and delicious. There is something very festive about that tart and sweet, bright pink flavor.
So which one is better?
That depends on what you’re going for. The jelly has the least tartness and some deep notes from the anise and cinnamon. The cranberry jam style is more chunky but also packs a bigger punch as the cranberry skins are very flavorful. Both the jelly and the jam and cooked and thick and deep but if you want something fresher and lighter the relish is fantastic. Each of these is great in its own right
Boy that jelly is nostalgic and tasty but what do I do with all the remaining pulp?
I’m so glad you asked because I was asking myself that too. That pulp is the bomdiggity and it would be a shame to throw it out. I highly recommend making these festive Cranberry Sauce Muffins.
How can my cranberries become a molded jelly without any added gelatin?
The short answer is that cranberries are really high in pectin. For a longer answer, here is an excerpt form Scientific American on the subject.
Pectin is a natural polymer—a series of molecules that attach to one another to form long chains. It is found between plant cells and within their cell walls. Pectin helps “glue” the plant cells together, keeping their tissues firm. And in cooked cranberries as well as in other fruit jams and jellies this pectin can help stick the cooked fruit together to form a solid jelly. When cranberries are cooked, their pectin polymers tangle and interact, forming a net that traps dissolved sugar molecules so they can’t flow. This creates a firm shape. Cranberries naturally contain a lot of pectin, which helps keep the berries nice and firm. This extra pectin gets released when they are cooked. But what determines if the resulting cranberry sauce is liquid or jelly?
You can see how cooking affects the sauce in the picture progression below. As the sauce cooks, you can see how it thickens. The longer you cook it, the thicker it will be and the more solid it will become when cooled. And yes, that means you could mold the cranberry jam and not just the cranberry jelly.
Cranberry Jam: Test 1 – Because the fruit bits are great
Cranberry Relish: Test 1 – Fresh like a salad but actually yummy
Cranberry Jelly: Test 1 – Nostalgic can sauce