Ok, frugal boozehounds, here’s a tip from the Pixie…watch out for cranberries on sale at your grocery store between December and January: RIGHT NOW! This is the prime time – they hit the shelves around Thanksgiving, but after Christmas, the prices drop from $5 down to $2 per bag. I buy them up and freeze them – they’ll keep well for many months! One day I’ll save enough to make a wine…
Cranberries are tart, potent, and can be used to make many delicious things. Luckily for us, they are also full of antioxidants, vitamin C, and tannins!
I was poking around in my freezer the other day and found one long lost bag of cranberries tucked in the back corner. I let them thaw overnight in the fridge, and started them as a cordial the following morning.
Here’s how I made my spiced cranberry cordial, but feel free to play with the recipe, add things, and make it your own! If you have never made a tincture, cordial, or elixir before, this post might be helpful to you. It is easy, I promise!
Now, this cranberry cordial recipe is quite malleable. More than an exact recipe, I’m sharing a technique with a few simple guidelines, but the variations are endless. Add ginger root, star anise, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, any other herbs or spices that you think might blend well with the tart, astringent cranberries.
You can also play with the sugar syrup to change the end flavor of the cordial – white sugar makes a very neutral, highly sweet simple syrup, while brown sugar adds a depth of flavor from the molasses. Honey simple syrup is more cloying and rich, but gives a great buffer to the tart berries. It is worth it to make this a few times, and try experimenting!
3 cups Cranberries (or 1 12oz bag of cranberries)
1 stick Cinnamon
1 piece Star Anise
1 piece Dried Orange Peel (I dry them myself year-round for teas and recipes!)
1 pint Vodka
Other spices (Ginger, cloves, fennel…anything can go here that you wish to add!)
Step 1 Wash and pick through cranberries to ensure they are in good shape. Toss out any gross ones or mushy ones and put the cranberries in a quart jar.
Step 2 Pour vodka to cover the cranberries – add the cinnamon stick, anise, and orange into the jar.
Step 3 Put a cap on the jar and label the jar with the date and ingredients. Wait for at least a few weeks before straining the vodka from the jar. You may wish to mash the berries and let it sit even longer, but the seeds and skins will start to make it quite bitter after too long, so taste often.
Step 4 Make a sugar syrup to add to the strained cranberry cordial – sweeten to your taste! Label, bottle, and enjoy throughout the year.