Pickled Cranberries: Not Your Grandmother's Cranberry Sauce

In our humble opinion, Thanksgiving is superior to any other day of the year. In an effort to make this year's feast the best of all time (sorry, Pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe), we're bringing you the recipes, how-tos and decorating ideas to help you become a Turkey Day pro.

There are a few things you don’t talk about at the holiday table lest you risk the conversation turning sour. Religion. Politics. And whether jellied or chunky cranberry sauce is better. Seriously, it could come to fisticuffs. But to that I say: to heck with the sauce. This year, pickle your crans for a side that is surprising and delicious — and will surely mollify both sides of this intractable debate.

Now, when I first mentioned this idea, an Internet friend squawked: “Pickled cranberries? What will you pickle next, sorrel?” Allow me to alleviate your fears. We’re not talking kosher dills here. Think more bread-and-butter pickles, with a sweet brine that tempers and complements the cranberries’ natural pucker. Small-batch canner extraordinaire Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars first put forth this concept. Like most pickling projects, it’s easy as can be. The only thing to consider is to make them far enough ahead of time for the flavors to mellow and round out. A couple days will do, so there’s still plenty of time for Turkey Day.

As a bonus prize, your leftover brine will be a cranberry shrub, or drinking vinegar. Serve one part of the shrub mixed in four to five parts sparkling water for a bright, refreshing beverage that makes a lovely alternative to wine for your non-drinking guests.

Sean Timberlake is a professional writer, amateur foodie, avid traveler and all-around bon vivant. He is the founder of Punk Domestics, a content and community site for DIY food enthusiasts, and has penned the blog Hedonia since 2006. He lives in San Francisco with his husband, DPaul Brown, and their hyperactive terrier, Reese.

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