My Cranberry Holiday Salad

29 Dec

About a week before Thanksgiving, I decided to grab a bag of fresh cranberries at the store. My original thought was to make a cranberry sauce, but that was to easy for me. So I began to look for a recipe that included fresh cranberries and gelatin…because now it was two days before Thanksgiving and I was not going to the store for a package of jello. Luckily I had some orange juice on hand and began my experiment. First, I rinsed the berries.

Before I added the cranberries to a pot, I wanted to let my gelatin bloom. I added three packets of gelatin to 1/2 cup of very cold water. This makes for a super ugly photo. But to show you, it will look like a off-white paste. Don’t stir, just let it sit until you need it.

Next, I added 2 cups of water to a medium saucepan. Then I added the berries to the water and turned the heat to medium-high.

Once the cranberries started to pop, I added 2 cups of sugar to the mix. I stirred the mixture frequently to make sure the berries were popping right. They don’t make a popping sound, but they will become noticeably softer.

I also added some orange juice to infuse the cranberries as they softened too. I then grabbed some lemon juice and zest to give the sauce some zip as well. It was tangy and perfectly sweet and I was starting to get excited. Now it was time to add the gelatin/water mixture. It will be like a thick paste. Try to get as much of it in the pan as possible. Meanwhile, I only had a can of chopped pineapple on hand. Turns out most recipes call for crushed pineapple. So I crushed it with a wooden spoon…perfect. I reserved the pineapple juice in a glass, in case I needed it later.

Then I chopped up one red apple. I love my apple corer/slicer. If you don’t have one, be sure to invest in a stainless steel model. Plastic just won’t hold up.

I carefully added the apples to the now very full pot of cranberries. I think I needed a bigger pot…what do you think?

After the apples had incorporated into the mixture, I removed the saucepan from the heat and added them to the crushed pineapple.

After stirring the mixture together and tasting it, I felt like it needed something else. So I added the reserved pineapple juice. And then I caught a glance of my homemade marshmallows on the counter. What a great addition!

So I chopped up the marshmellows and added them to the still warm mixture.

So they quickly melted. Whoops. Gotta remember that for next time.

I gave it a final approval taste and poured it into a smaller bowl to refrigerate and jell together. Note to self, buy jello mold for prettier outcome!

After the jello had set overnight, I needed to make sure it came back out. I found a great solution. First, turn on your sink to the hottest that your water will run. Then, fill up a slightly larger bowl with hot water in the sink. Remove the plastic wrap from the jello. Carefully place/hold the bowl of jello in the warm water for about 30 seconds. Then, take an offset spatula, plastic knife, or other long and flexible utensil. Next, place a large, flat plate on top of the bowl. Firmly grasp the bowl and plate with bowl hands, and in one quick, swift, cautious movement, flip the bowl over.

This jello gets better the longer it sets up. We first ate it about 24 hours later. When my husband had it the day after, he liked it more than on Thanksgiving. So if you have a chance to make it more than 24 hours in advance, do it!

Recipe Lovers:

1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
3 packets gelatin (4 packets come in one box, usually)
2 cups water
1/2 cup cold water for gelatin
1 can chopped or crushed pineapple, juice reserved
2 cups orange juice
1 red apple
1 tbsp lemon juice
Lemon zest to taste
Marshmallows, optional

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