Mom's Cranberry Salad
November 24, 2015
Tart, sweet, crunchy & silky, this cranberry salad is the perfect compliment to your Thanksgiving dinner. Best of all, the leftover salad can be used as relish on a turkey sandwich or even as topping on vanilla ice cream!
For this recipe you will need a food grinder. It's that funky metal thing your grandmother used to attach to the edge of her countertop or table. You know the one... it has a big crank on the side. She used it to grind nuts for Christmas cookies. Your mom probably has Grandma's grinder in a box in the basement.
A word of caution... Wear an apron or an old t-shirt when grinding the cranberries. Juice sometimes squirts out. Also, do NOT push food down into the grinder with your fingers. Allow the auger to do the work, and you'll avoid a trip to the ER.
You could probably do this with a food processor or blender, but you'll have to be careful not to puree the fruit. If you use a food processor or blender, do NOT try to blend it all at once or you'll have a smoothie. Use the "pulse" button to process very small batches, dumping each into a bowl before blending more.
1 large box of cherry gelatin. I have better luck with Bakol Natural Foods Dessert Jel (available at Fresh Thyme Market & Wal-Mart) than Jello or Royal.
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup granulated sugar (may increase if you want salad to be sweet instead of tangy)
1 cup cold water
1 package whole cranberries
1 apple cored & seeded - leave peel on
1 orange - you can use the entire orange (including skin) if you wish, or you can zest it, then peel it and remove the pithy part in the center. Be sure to add the zest to the salad, along with the rest of the orange.
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (optional) I like to toast mine in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes, then cool them before adding them to this recipe.
Attach grinder to countertop, and set a cake pan or rimmed cookie sheet to catch the food as it's ground. It's also a good idea to put newspapers or an old towel on the floor - just in case anything drips. I use the grinding disc with the largest holes. I don't want the fruit minced - just chopped into small pieces.
Prepare apple & orange. Wash fruit thoroughly and dry. Use an apple corer/cutter if you have one, or cut apple in half & remove core & seeds. I use a melon baller or round measuring spoon to remove seeds and core. Super simple, and safer than using a knife. Cut halves into 2 or 3 pieces so they're small enough to fit into the spout of the grinder.
Cut entire orange into 4 or 6 pieces if you're using the entire thing. Otherwise, zest the orange, then peel it (if desired) and separate in half. Use a sharp knife to cut out the pith in the center, then pull orange apart into several pieces.
Dump cranberries into colander and rinse well. Discard any berries of questionable character. (Some may be mushy or moldy).
Begin loading fruit into grinder, and have a small child help turn the crank. Why a small child? We're making memories here, not just cranberry salad. Turning the crank is the Most Awesome Part of making the salad, especially when the cranberries make a "popping" sound as they're ground up. Also, children are more likely to taste it if they've helped make it.
Grind apple, cranberries, orange & nuts into the pan, then stir them to mix well. I always save the orange for last, because it's the juiciest ingredient - hence the most likely to drip onto the floor. Do NOT overload the grinder or you'll be chasing wayward cranberries around the room.
In mixing bowl or casserole dish, whisk Jell-o, sugar, and boiling water.
Whisk until Jell-o and sugar are completely dissolved, then add the cold water. Whisk to blend, then add fruit & nuts. Use a spoon or spatula to mix it all together, and you're done.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. It may be softer than regular Jell-o. That's normal. If you want yours to be more firm, either increase the amount of Jell-o you use or decrease the amount of water. You can add more cranberries, apples, oranges or nuts, if you wish. If you add more cranberries, be sure to increase sugar by at least ½ cup for each package of cranberries.
This can be made up to 3 days before Thanksgiving, as long as you keep it cold. It needs at least one night in the fridge, so plan ahead.
In memory of my mom, E. Eileen (Wallace) Wasko, who left this life on August 21, 2009, at the age of 86.
You loved your family. You showed us how to persevere in the face of illness and adversity. You never quit, and you never stopped planning for tomorrow. Most of all, you showed us how much joy can be found in the kitchen. Your cakes, cookies, pizza, stuffed cabbage, rosemary chicken, pizzelles and your cranberry salad - these are only a few of the memories you left for us to cherish. Your children and grandchildren are now carrying on your tradition of cooking.
You are missed, but you will never be forgotten.