Disaster or Design?

You say “disaster”; I say “design.”

It’s a fine line between a royal screw-up and a fascinating development, between failure and discovery.

I attempted to turn my six quarts of lowbush cranberries into jellied cranberry sauce. I even used a recipe this year; I tripled a recipe that called for two quarts of berries. After boiling and smooshing the berries, you boil the pretty juice for ages to reduce it enough to set up as the sauce that we know and love–the kind that comes out of the can looking like a cylindrical loaf.

It worked last year, though I had to boil the juice twice, and I faked the recipe. This year, I have cranberry butter instead of cranberry sauce. Really. It’s like a stiff apple butter. Mike calls it cranberry taffy, but he’s exaggerating.

cranberry-butterSo what happened?

Mike thinks we boiled it too long, but the juice never set up on the cold spoon the way it’s supposed to, so I have my doubts about that. I wonder if the increased quantity had something to do with it. Some recipes shouldn’t be multiplied. Was there too much liquid to reduce? Because of the increased liquid and reduction time, did I wind up stirring too much? Does sugar stretch from stirring the way wheat gluten does? Does pulling taffy make it stretchier? Any ideas, you kitchen wizards?

Mike’s having a hard time getting over the weird texture, but as an apple butter fan, I’m thinking this stuff is all right. It tastes great. If you can spread mint jelly on lamb (bleh), I see no reason I can’t smear cranberry butter (or cranberry taffy) on chicken, turkey, cottage cheese, etc.

I grew up on cottage cheese topped with apple butter. I love the stuff. A recent craving got me wondering how I might get a bunch of apples in the fall to make apple butter. Now I’m thinking maybe I don’t need apples. Maybe cranberry butter can satisfy that craving. Using the readily available local resource is appealing.

Still, I’m curious: what went wrong? It’d be nice to be able to predict the outcome of the process and have both cranberry sauce and cranberry butter.

Categories: Alaska

7 replies »

  1. If Mike isn’t able to develop a taste for the creation, he might be able to use it to seal the driveway! Or maybe as caulking?

  2. Good one Shelly! I thought it might be tar for the roof or to plug a hole in the boat when I saw the photo before I read the blog. But having had the experience of Jen’s making dinner out of twigs and reeds and it tasting Julia Child-like I can only imgaine how good the goo must taste – even on cottage cheese.

  3. Hrmph. :-/

    Actually, Shell, get this–we just caulked our windows, and Mike suggested using the cranberry butter, too.

    I’m thinking maybe I’ll go pick two more quarts of berries to see if not multiplying the recipe works.

    I ate the stuff off the spoon after I took the picture this morning. Yum!