“Bounceberries,” because ripe versions of this berry tend to bounce. “Craneberries,” because their blossoms resemble the heads of the cranes seen wading through their bogs.
Whatever you call them, fresh, tart, jubilantly scarlet cranberries are only in the market between Labor Day and the winter holidays. They’re harvested right now, generally up through Halloween. So make the most of the season’s bounty! Here’s a handful of recipes that put the fresh, whole berries to best use.
1. Cranberry & Lemon Curd Pie
Who in her right mind is turning down a slice of this beauty? No one, that’s who. Heads-up: This cranberry & lemon curd pie requires a grill. You grill the crust in its pan and those heavenly berries, which then get a spin in the blender. Add lemon, sugar and a lightly sweetened whipped cream, and you’ve got the dessert of your autumnal dreams.
2. Roasted Squash with Cranberries and Thyme
Petite, tender delicata and acorn squashes don’t need much to make them extraordinary. If you haven’t tried the maple syrup-butter trick on them, today’s the day. This roasted squash with cranberries and thyme showcases that combo to premier effect. The bouquet of fresh thyme and the jostling sweetness of cranberry are ideal foils for the buttery, syrupy notes.
3. Challah French Toast with Cranberry-Apple Compote
French toast is always marvelous, but sometimes it can be a one-note marvelous affair. Enter: challah French toast with cranberry-apple compote. Apples, fresh ginger, orange juice and bright berries mingle to fabulous effect. It’s the bright, slightly tart counterpoint the French toast needs and deserves.
4. Slow-Cooker Orange-Braised Pork Chops with Cranberry Compote
Sure, you’re making the port-spiked ginger relish for these slow-cooker orange-braised pork chops with cranberry compote. But then you’re saving any extra of that sweet stuff to slather on biscuits, scones, bread and whatever else you can find. This recipe has a blissfully short prep time of 20 minutes. Pop it in a slow cooker, set it in the morning and forget it until dinner.
5. Easy Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
A butter-brown sugar glaze is key to the glory of this easy cranberry upside-down cake. And yes, you can invert a dessert. The best part about it is that once you’ve done it once, you’ll want to upside-down everything. Tarte tatin? Yes, indeed. Pineapple upside-down cake? Absolutely. This is the simple starter upside-down cake to get you hooked.
6. Herbed Turkey Meatballs
Herbed turkey meatballs are a one-stop shop for Thanksgiving flavors, for those who can’t wait until The Big Day or who need to do a super-simple Thanksgiving this year. Vaguely reminiscent of the Swedish meatballs at certain superstores, these meatballs employ a little bit of fresh oregano. They go right into the oven before being drizzled with an orange-cranberry compote. They’re just so good.
7. Pear-Cranberry Pie
“Almost too beautiful to eat.” That’s what guests might say upon spying this deep-dish pear-cranberry pie. It gets a little extra something-something thanks to the flavors of cherry (from Kirsch) and lemon tucked in there. The dusting of turbinado sugar on top lends crunch and beauty. It’s a holiday season stunner.
8. Rack of Lamb With Spicy Cranberry Relish
Among their fruit brethren, cranberries boast “MVP” status when it comes to succeeding with savory dishes. This rack of lamb with spicy cranberry relish is proof. It’s precisely as good as it looks, with a brilliant cranberry relish spiced with mint, jalapeño and tangerines. Those are the strong flavors you want to pair with lamb. Remember to ask your butcher to “French” the racks by cutting the meat and fat from the rib ends for a neater presentation tableside when carving.
9. Cranberry Chess Tart
Chess pie is a classic in the American South for a reason: It’s simple and delicious. Its typical ingredients are eggs, sugar, butter and flour, plus straightforward flavorings such as lemon juice, vanilla or buttermilk. Cranberry chess tart is a gorgeous twist on this favorite recipe. The cranberries mingle with a little orange zest and cider vinegar, a flavor profile that couldn’t be a better match for the neutral, sweet chess pie canvas.