My Ocean Spray Cranberry Conspiracy Theory

Am I crazy, or has ocean spray taken to hybridizing their cranberries?

Homemade cranberry sauce and fresh cranberry relish are key components of my family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

This year, due to an impulsive (but excellent) decision to make Orangette’s Cranberry Chutney, I found myself two bags of cranberries short on Thanksgiving morning. A quick trip to the grocery store closest to my sister’s house yielded two bags of ocean spray cranberries, which looked plump and very fresh. In fact they were about twice as large as the generic cranberries that I had used for all of my other cranberry delights this season. I initially thought that this was a good thing, and I quickly washed and sorted the berries and threw them in the food processor to begin the fresh cranberry relish.

A quick whir, and I began to worry that something must be wrong with the berries. Instead of a rich rosy mix, the chopped berries looked pale and anemic. Not to be deterred, I dumped them into the mixing bowl and chopped the oranges and apples for the relish. I combined all the ingredients, gave them a quick stir, added a sprinkling of sugar, and tasted.

With great concern, I called my sister over. In addition to being pale, the cranberries were horribly bland. Not particularly tart and with no acidic bite, we had to set about doctoring a recipe that, in 25 years of family history, had never needed any doctoring at all. With the addition of a significant amount of lemon juice, we finally achieved a little of the desired bite, but there was nothing to be done for the color.

All in all, the fresh relish was so disappointing that we added several spoons of the Cranberry Chutney to the leftovers to try to heighten the flavor. This is practically sacrilege, because the leftover fresh cranberry relish is usually everyone’s favorite, and is snuck away in little dishes at all hours until it is completely gone. This year, the remains appear to be almost totally untouched.

Did you notice any difference with the berries this year? Some online reading has revealed to me that white cranberries are just red cranberries that are milder in taste because they are harvested before they are fully ripe. I suppose it is possible that I jut got a batch of underripe berries, but I am still suspicious about the size. Next year, it will only be generic cranberries for me.

Fresh Cranberry Relish

1 bag of cranberries, washed and sorted

1 red eating apple, washed, cored and cut into 8 pieces

1 navel orange, peel cut away, seeds removed, and cut into 8 chunks

Sugar to taste (1/4-1/2 cup)

In a food processor, process berries, apple, and orange until coarsely chopped. Stir in sugar to taste. This is best if made at least 4 hours prior to serving, and will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator.


1 Comment

Filed under cooking and food, Recipes, Stories, Uncategorized

One response to “My Ocean Spray Cranberry Conspiracy Theory

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