Candied Cranberries (and 6 reasons to make them)

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‘Tis the season to be busy, but there’s always time for candied cranberries. Here’s why: 

  1. You can make these with only 5 minutes hands-on time. The rest of the time is resting or simmering time, so you’re freed up to do other things.
  2. They are beautiful to look at.
  3. Candied cranberries add the festive cranberry touch to any dish (especially desserts or cheese boards) without being overly tart.
  4. They’re healthy! (Just ignore the added sugar for now, and anyway, cranberries can help against tooth decay.) Cranberries are packed full of vitamin C. They also can help lower LDL cholesterol, guard against cancer, diabetes, inflammatory problems, bacterial infections… there’s more, but I think that’s a good start!
  5. They make a great hostess gift. Who wouldn’t want a little bag of these beautiful, jewel-like berries, especially once they get a taste?
  6. You can use the left-over syrup for cocktails* or in soft drinks. If you infuse it with rosemary, it’s that much more festive!

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If you start now, your berries will be ready by tomorrow. They will last for a week or more, but if you want my honest opinion, I don’t think you will be able to test that. Perhaps you’d better make a double batch.

Candied Cranberries

I’ve had this recipe for a while, and I think it is originally from Gourmet Magazine, in the early 2000s. It’s infinitely scalable, although I would caution against making too much in one go mainly because as the cranberries absorb the sugar, they become heavier, and they could crush the berries underneath.

  • 1 cup sugar (half for the cooking, half for the coating)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup cranberries

Cook 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water in heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Transfer to the top of double boiler (or a heatproof bowl). Stir in the cranberries, then place over simmering water. Cook, covered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from over the water, and let cranberry mixture stand at room temperature overnight.

The next day, drain the cranberries well, taking care to reserve the syrup. Spread the remaining half cup of sugar on a plate and add the cranberries, turning and shaking them to get them completely coated. Let dry at least 30 minutes, more if your house is prone to being damp! Store in an airtight container.

*You can reheat the syrup with a few sprigs of rosemary. Bring it to a simmer, then turn off the heat and let the rosemary infuse the syrup for a half hour or more. This syrup is good with gin: the rosemary blends well with the juniper, and the pretty pink colour makes a very special-looking drink. I made mine in a shaker with 2 parts gin, 1 part syrup, then I poured it into glasses and added a splash of soda water. Very refreshing, the taste reminded me of a snowy day!

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