Fresh, colorful cranberries brighten holiday dishes

You can always buy cranberry sauce and cranberry jelly in the supermarket today, but 60 to 65 percent of the crop goes into cranberry drinks - Cranapple, Cran-Grape, and Cranberry Juice Cocktail.

The plain cranberry juice, labeled as Cranberry Juice Cocktail by Ocean Spray Company, is also more correctly identified in smaller type as ''a juice drink.'' This company, an 800-grower national cooperative, processed 2.2 million barrels of last year's crop.

The cranberry cocktail is a juice drink with no artificial coloring added and on the back of the bottle a note explains ''The color of Ocean Juice Cranberry Cocktail may vary slightly according to the variation in the natural color of cranberries.''

A lot of effort is devoted to keeping that color variation to a minimum by mixing different varieties of the berry. I know because I have seen cranberries processed both at the Cape Cod (Massachusetts) cranberry plant, in Vancouver, British Columbia, and in Seattle, Wash.

Cranberries are frozen first for easier processing, as well as to improve flavor and increase the juice yield, then they are mixed with rice hulls to make them easier to press.

The deep red liquid that results is much too sour to be popular, so high fructose corn syrup is added.

But cranberries in both the berry and liquid form are used and consumed in many colorful ways from Massachusetts on the East Coast to Oregon on the West.

Massachusetts has a Cranberry Festival and 4-H Fair each fall in South Carver , Mass., along with a National Cranberry Quilt Patch Contest and a Cranberry Baking Contest.

In Bandon, Ore., I attended the annual Cranberry Festival combined with a Cranberry Festival Parade, a Festival Food Fair of booths lining the street along the waterfront with delicious smoked salmon and other local foods, sold in small portions and eaten out of hand along with sweets and savories made with cranberries.

This year's festival was the 35th and was complete with an outdoor barbecue lunch at the Bandon Fairgrounds; there was music, craft shops, and even a cranberry candy shop.

Here are some cranberry recipes.

Quick Cranberry Jelly

31/2 cups cranberry juice cocktail

13/4-ounce box dry pectin

4 cups sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

Combine cranberry juice cocktail and pectin in 6-quart saucepan. Cook over high heat until mixture boils. Stir in sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard 1 minute while stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Skim foam from top. Pour into sterilized jelly glasses. Pour 1/8 inch melted parrafin on top of each glass. Cool, cover, and store in a cool, dark place. Makes 6 1/2-pint jars.

Cranberry Mousse

1 cup cranberry juice cocktail

1 3-ounce package raspberry flavored gelatin

1 16-ounce can jellied cranberry sauce

11/2 cups heavy cream, whipped, or

2 cups frozen whipped topping

In saucepan heat cranberry juice cocktail to boiling. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved. In a bowl beat cranberry sauce with electric beater on high 1 minute. Stir into gelatin mixture. Chill in refrigerator 2 to 3 hours until thickened but not set.

Reserve 1/2 cup topping or whipped cream for decorating, then fold remaining topping into mixture until thoroughly blended. Spoon into a 1-quart souffle dish and decorate with whipped cream and whole cranberries as desired.

Hot Mulled Cranberry Punch

1 quart cranberry juice cocktail

1 can (6 ounces) frozen concentrated lemonade

1 cup grape juice

11/2 cups water

2 cinnamon sticks

10 whole cloves

Lemon slices

Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove spices and serve at once garnished with lemon slices. Serves 8.

Glazed Cranberry Lemon Bread

4 tablespoons butter or margarine

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

21/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons sugar

Cream together butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and lemon peel and beat well. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Beat until smooth after each addition.

Stir in cranberries. Pour into greased 9 by 5 by 3-inch pan.

Bake in 350 degree F. oven 55 to 60 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan and when completely cool combine lemon juice and sugar and spoon over top. Wrap and store overnight.

Cranberry Muffins

1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1 beaten egg

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons cooking oil

2 cups packaged biscuit mix

Mix cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar, and orange peel and set aside. Combine egg, 1 /4 cup sugar, orange juice, and cooking oil. Add all at once to biscuit mix.

Stir just until moistened. Fold in cranberry mixture.

Fill greased muffin pans 2/3 full. Bake in 400 degree F. oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until done. Makes 11/2 dozen muffins.

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