This unusual cranberry conserve is immensely satisfying, tart and sweet, with a chunky texture from an abundance of nuts and raisins. It’s adapted from a recipe by Mrs. Fannie Wought of Cullom, Illinois that was published many years ago in the wonderful, out-of-print-but-findable Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter. The conserve is delicious with roast turkey, chicken and pork, even cheddar cheese. I like it best on its own, eaten with a spoon as a midnight snack. Around the holidays, I make big batches of this conserve and pack it into jars to give as gifts. (It will keep for up to a month in a covered container in the refrigerator.)
This conserve will seem even more of a miracle when you read – or listen to – this NPR segment on the health protective properties of cranberries.
Recipe: Cranberry Walnut Conserve
Makes about 2 quarts
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) walnuts
3 navel oranges, well washed
5 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2/3 cup wildflower honey, or sugar, or more to taste
1 ½ cups hot water
1 1/4 cups dark raisins or currents
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, as necessary
Preheat the oven to 375. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast until they are fragrant, about 9 minutes. Set aside to cool.
With a sharp knife, cut the ends off the oranges and discard; slice the oranges lengthwise, in quarters through the stem. Slice each quarter crosswise into very thin slices, discarding the seeds as you work.
In a large, heavy nonreactive saucepan, combine 4 cups of the cranberries, the oranges, honey and water, and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and the cranberries are soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in the raisins and the remaining 1 cup cranberries and cook until the raisins are plump, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
Chop the walnuts coarsely and stir them into the conserve, along with the lemon juice if needed to bring out the flavors. Transfer the conserve to clean dry jars, cover and refrigerate.