Cranberry Quince Relish
A regional condiment with a slight quince twist.
- 12 oz cranberries
- 1 medium-large Stayman-Winesap apple
- 1 poached quince about 3/4 cup chopped quince
- 2 small navel oranges quartered skin-on or one big one
- 1 cup sugar
Warning: needs to be made at least 2 hrs prior to serving and up to overnight.
In a food processor, pulse the cranberries until finely chopped (about 8 pulses). Remove to a large bowl.
Repeat with the apple and quince (together) and add to the cranberries.
Repeat with the oranges. Add to the rest of the fruit in the bowl. Stir in the sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least two hours prior to serving.
Growing up we were jellied cranberry sauce people (my job was to shake it out of the van and slice it up) but when I was older I heard about people having relish instead and I was intrigued. My husband is a big cooked homemade cranberry sauce person (as you can tell, I’ve made a lot over the years
) and I never actually made relish before this year.
This year was the perfect excuse since I wanted to put together a regional themed Thanksgiving and cranberry relish is always on the list of New England dishes. Traditionally it seems like it was made with a meat grinder which sounds colorful and thrilling. Today we mostly seem to make do with a food processor—finely chopping cranberries is not for the weak of heart.
I find it a little puzzling, honestly. Firstly it’s not what we generally think of as a “relish” in this century but fruit relish isn’t unheard of but I think we mostly lump it in with chutneys.The other thing is that cranberries and oranges don’t grow near each. I can see coming up with lots of cranberry recipes while you are tending the bog in New Jersey or further north but until fairly recently in food history (a hundred years or so) oranges were pretty rare outside of the states that grow them and expensive. That’s one of the reasons why they were a tradition in Christmas stockings. I think they were easier to get if you lived along a railroad line (I know that’s how my grandfather got some exotic for the time fruit) but still unusual and a bit of a delicacy. Maybe that is why they were ground whole into to cranberry relish? Festive cheer? Not wanting to waste a speck?
When I try to look up about relish I am constantly redirected to “cranberry sauce” and I wouldn’t be surprised if cranberry sauce as we know it today both gelatinous and whole-fruit was originally referred to as “relish” but this relish of raw fruit all stirred together is something quite different.
I can’t say I’ve seen on call for quince before but I had some leftover from making another dish and thought they’d be nice to add. They are quite sweet once they are poached in sugar water have a lovely floral essence that would serve anything made with fruit well. If you don’t have quince on hand (who does), feel free to just leave it out with no other adjustments needed.