Happy Thanksgiving from the Etna Schoolhouse

Photo: UMaine Cooperative Extension

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A staple at Thanksgiving tables throughout the U.S., the cranberry is a superfruit native to Etna, Maine.

Lancy Bradshaw, born and raised literally down the lane from the Lincoln School, recently recalled her days as a child picking wild cranberries for our blog.

The cranberry bog was in South Etna on what we called the meadow.  It flooded at various times of the year and we skated there in the winter.  In the fall we went over to pick wild cranberries.  I have no idea if they were something left over from earlier settlers or the Native Americans who preceeded the settlers.  That meadow was very near the South Etna Schoolhouse.  I actually don’t remember much about the actual picking , except that the family was always thrilled to get the bounty.  Remember, no big trucks brought fresh cranberries to the Country Store at North Etna.


In the spirit of Thanksgiving, a recipe for those cranberries:

Cranberry Sauce
Yield: about 2 pint jars or 1 quart jar
1 quart cranberries
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
Wash cranberries. Cook berries in water until soft. Press through a fine sieve. Add sugar and boil 3 minutes. Pour boiling hot sauce into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a damp, clean paper towel. Adjust lids. Process 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath (pints or quarts).

Cranberry Orange Chutney
Yield: about 8 half-pint jars

24 ounces fresh whole cranberries
2 cups chopped white onion
2 cups golden raisins
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups white distilled vinegar (5%)
1 cup orange juice
4 teaspoons peeled, grated fresh ginger
3 sticks cinnamon

Rinse cranberries well. Combine all ingredients in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until cranberries are tender. Stir often to prevent burning. Remove cinnamon sticks. Pour the hot chutney into hot sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a damp, clean paper towel. Adjust lids. Process 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath.

Spicy Cranberry Salsa
Yield: about 6 pint jars

6 cups chopped red onion
4 finely chopped large serrano peppers
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar (5%)
1 tablespoon canning salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons clover honey
12 cups (2 3/4 pounds) rinsed, whole cranberries

CAUTION: Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.

Combine all ingredients except cranberries in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat slightly and boil gently for 5 minutes. Add cranberries, reduce heat slightly and boil mixture for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Pour the hot mixture into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Leave saucepot over low heat while filling jars. Remove air bubbles. Adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a damp, clean paper towel. Adjust lids. Process 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath.

Thanks to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension for the picture and recipes.

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