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Henrietta Race's Cranberry Salad Recipe
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Written by Paul D. Race for FamilyChristmasOnline.com

Henrietta's Cranberry Salad - from Family Christmas Online™

Early settlers in New England knew the value of eating fruits and vegetables when they could get them (remember, their navy ate limes on purpose). In the days before refrigeration and canning, most fruits and vegetables were gone by late November. So it's no surprise that pumpkins and cranberries, and sometimes apples found their way into late autumn celebrations like Thanksgiving. The tart flavor of cranberries is also a good complement for the rich flavor of turkey, which became a standard for holiday meals by the mid-1800s.

Click for bigger photo.When I was little, we thought cranberry sauce came like a sort of thick Jell-O(r) in a can. To this day, our children prefer the "cranberry sauce" that comes that way. But about thirty years ago, my mother, Henrietta Race came across this recipe for making a rich, flavorful sauce using fresh fruit, and the "grownups" in our family have preferred it this way ever since. It has also become a favorite of many other families with whom we have shared it.

For this recipe you'll need:

    1 orange, peeled and chopped
    2-3 apples, chopped
    1/2-2/3 Cup walnuts, chopped
    1 Cup celery, diced
    1 12-oz package of cranberries, chopped
    1 3-oz box of strawberry or raspberry Jell-O(r)
    1 Cup sugar
    1 Cup boiling water

Chopping

The first thing you do is chop or dice everything that needs to be chopped or diced. We have done it all by hand - if you do that, make certain that each cranberry is sliced in half, at least. But most people will find it quicker to use something designed for the process.

Years ago, we used an electric meat grinder with the largest (chopping) wheel to do the orange and sometimes the rest of the ingredients, if we were in a hurry.

Today we have a food chopper similar to the food chopper shown at the left. That works very well for walnuts.

For most other ingredients, we use a small food processor like the one shown at the right.

Mixing

After everything is chopped:
  1. Pour 1 cup of boiling water into a mixing bowl.
  2. Dissolve the 3-oz box of strawberry or raspberry Jell-O(r) into the water.
  3. Add 1 cup of sugar to the Jello-O(r) mixture. Make certain it is also dissolved completely.
  4. Stir the chopped ingredients (orange, apples, walnuts, celery, and cranberries) into the liquid.
  5. Set the whole thing in the refrigerator to set. Overnight works best.
The fact that this should be done a day ahead actually helps folks who will be plenty busy on Thanksgiving or Christmas. This recipe may also be done up well ahead and frozen until it is needed. That makes it extremely useful for transporting - say you have to drive 200 miles for Thanksgiving like we often do. If it's still frozen the morning of the meal, just set it out a couple hours before you need to serve it, and refrigerate it as soon as it is thawed enough to stir.

Variations

We don't have any significant variations on this recipe, though we have left out walnuts when we were preparing it for a family that doesn't like nuts, and it still tasted good. A friend from work makes almost exactly the same recipe, but she leaves out the jello and water, so it doesn't gel, but tastes similar to our recipe. If you have tried and liked some variation, or if you have your own favorite recipe for a similar salad, please let us know, and we'll add to this page and give you credit.

Hope this gives you some ideas and helps your holiday gathering to be the best ever.

Please let us know if you have any feedback suggestions, additions, or corrections.

Happy Holidays,

Paul Race

FamilyChristmasOnline.com

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