The annual holiday condiment this year is sweet, tart, and spicy. Cranberries, apple, and orange zest are combined with brown sugar, honey, and apple cider vinegar to give this conserve a perfect balance of flavors. And, for a little extra kick, there's a bit of freshly ground pepper. This is the perfect accompaniment to all your holiday and winter meals. —Donna
4 to 5 cups
fresh cranberries, rinsed
Granny Smith, or other tart apple, peeled, cored, and cut into small dice
finely diced candied (crystallized) ginger
dark brown sugar
apple cider vinegar
freshly ground pepper, 4 or 5 generous turns of the pepper mill
Check the cranberries for any soft or shriveled berries; discard these. Place the berries in a 4 quart heavy, non-reactive saucepan.
Strip the zest off the orange with a microplane, add to the pot of cranberries. Squeeze the juice from the orange into a glass measuring cup; add water to measure 1 cup. Add the juice/water mixture to the pot. Add the diced apple, the candied ginger, brown sugar, honey, cider vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and pepper.
Bring the mixture up to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the cranberries pop and the diced apple is tender. Skim off any foam that accumulates on the surface of the conserve. The mixture will look quite soupy at this point, but it thickens as it cools. Taste for seasoning and add a little more honey or vinegar to get the balance that suits your palate.
Allow the conserve to cool briefly, then portion it into glass preserving jars and cover tightly. Store in the refrigerator for several weeks, or process as you would jam or preserves for longer shelf storage.