Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Low Sugar Alternative to Holiday Cranberry Jelly

How to Make a Healthy Thanksgiving Meal Classic

cranberries Trust me. If I have a can of cranberry jelly in front of me, it will disappear before the gravy makes it half way around the table. My kids enjoy it as well, so I decided this year to do the family a favor and bring a tasty, but low sugar alternative to the Thanksgiving meal. The key is replacing about half of the sugar in the jelly instead of doing without. Not only is this recipe healthier, but it tastes wonderful as well. Of course, as with many projects in my kitchen these days, I recruited my daughters to lend a hand.

Thanksgiving Prep
 
cranberries The girls started by selecting a large pot and our cheese cloth strainer from the cupboard. I always use this time to teach my girls to keep good cleaning habits, so I had them wash out the gear before we got started. A cheese cloth strainer is a handy tool to have in the kitchen, and if you need to locate one, I suggest trying your browsing skills at your local Goodwill Store first before buying a brand new one off the shelf.

A Healthy Cook Up
 

cranberries My oldest added 5 cups of cranberries (about twenty-four ounces) and 1/4 cup of water. I turned on the stove to a medium heat, and after five minutes, used a potato masher to pulp the cranberries until the juice was freed. This gave us about 3-4 cups of juice. At this point, I cranked up the heat to high, and once the berries were at a rapid boil for one minute, turned off the stove. I helped my five-year-old pour the berries through the cheese cloth to separate the pulp, then returned the juice to the pot on a medium heat. We kept the pulp for relish because, as my six-year-old noted, "Some people might like the mash." What a thoughtful kid.


Adding the Sweetener
 
cranerry jellyFor this size batch, we wanted to use two cups of sweetener. One cup was all white sugar, but we had a choice for the second. Either we could use organic honey, which is a more complex sugar but still a healthier alternative, or a stevia product. Stevia is an herbal extract from the South American plant of the same name, and can be found commercially in products such as Truvia. We had a package, so we decided to go that route. Before adding the cup of sugar, the girls mixed it with a package of no-sugar pectin which is a natural extract from apples and can be found at any grocery store. This helps the jelly set properly. The two were premixed to avoid clumping, as uncut pectin is prone to do, then poured into the hot cranberry juice. After it dissolved, the girls added the cup of Truvia. I brought the heat back up and let the mixture return to a rapid boil while I stirred away.
For this size batch, we wanted to use two cups of sweetener. One cup was all white sugar, but we had a choice for the second. Either we could use organic honey, which is a more complex sugar but still a healthier alternative, or a

Setting the Cranberry Jelly
 
cranberry jelly Once the mixture had boiled for about ten minutes, I removed it from the heat. The girls had a brief, though animated discussion at this point concerning what mould we would use. My six-year-old wanted to use our snowman, while my five-year-old wanted to use the Christmas tree mould. The argument was averted when I pointed out neither of the moulds were large enough for all of our mix, so we would do well to use both. Once I filled the moulds with the hot jelly, they were placed in the fridge to cool, ready for a harvest supper. The 'mashed' berries were frozen for Thanksgiving to make a cranberry relish with oranges and cinnamon.

The Recipe
 
24 Ounces Cranberries
1 Cup Granulated White Sugar
1 Cup Truvia (or honey)
1 Package No-Sugar Pectin
1/4 Cup Water

Bring the water and cranberries to a boil as described, then mash and strain. Return the juice to the pot and bring to a rolling boil, adding in the sugar, no-sugar pectin, and Truvia. After the mixture has boiled for 10 minutes, pour into moulds and pop into the refrigerator. The jelly is set and ready to serve after a two hours.