I wait a very long time for cranberries every year. I love them dearly, use them frequently and always forget to store some away in my freezer. Maybe it's better that way, it makes the day sweeter when I finally see them again. They aren't cheap around these parts and it can be very difficult to find cranberries that aren't from Ocean Spray, the company around here that handles these bouncy little jewels. The reason I prefer to avoid Ocean Spray is because by the time the berries are on the shelf they aren't looking so hot. On closer inspection you'll notice many will be mushy or brown, because it's taken so long to get from the bog to me.
It seems odd to have such trouble finding them, as British Columbia produced 95% of Canada's cranberries every year. So wasn't I pleased when I went to the last farmer's market of the season just down the street from where I live and found them! The produce was cheap and the picking were abundant. Sitting along side 10 pound bags of potatoes were 1 pound bags of shiny cranberries, not washed or processed. I bought a few bags, happy with the quality of the berries, no squishy ones here! Happily I took them home brainstorming how I'd use my precious supply. Much of the berries got made into a cranberry relish for our Thanksgiving dinner, some will end up in a cranberry-apple pie, but a few worked their way into this Cranberry-Apple Butter.
The results were incredible, of the three apple butters I made this one was hand-down the favourite. It's bright and zingy, with a teeny bit of tart left in there. But still sweet and familiar the way apple butter is. The vanilla is apparent and the spices are comforting. Please promise me you'll try it, I swear you won't be disappointed. If you don't want to make it I've got some for sale, just shoot me an email!
Jeweled Cranberry-Apple Butter
Makes 4 cups of butter.
3 lbs cooking apples, cored and cut into chunks
12 oz cranberries, rinsed
2 cups water
300g (1 1/2 cups) white sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
Combine the apple chunks, cranberries and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook until the apples are very soft and the berries are bursting, about 15-20 minutes. Squish the sauce through a food mill and puree.
Transfer the puree to a slow cooker and add the sugar. Mix it in to dissolve and turn the temperature to low. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean with the back of a knife. Place the seeds and the bean into the apple-cranberry mixture along with the spices.