The Evolved Foodie™

Sour Cherry, Red Pepper, and Two Kinds of Cranberry Relish

This cranberry relish recipe is somewhat complicated

Today’s National Cranberry Relish Day, so I thought I’d share a recipe I love.

Let me warn you before we even begin, this is probably the most over-the-top cranberry relish I’ve ever made. Should you make it? Maybe. It’s that good. Will you make it? Maybe. Maybe not. There are too many oddball ingredients and it takes a really long time to pull together. So, why am I sharing this recipe? Because I also pared it down a lot and offered tips for ingredients you’ll have around so hopefully it will inspire you to try something a bit different with your own side dishes this Thanksgiving.

It was inspired by a visit to a cranberry bog!

Last fall I visited a tiny port city in British Columbia called Nanaimo. It was notable for the beautiful views and quirky shops. Also, there was a cranberry farm which was surprisingly fun to visit. That’s when I discovered the sheer joy of cranberry pepper relish. It was spicy, it was sweet, it did things to my taste-buds that I’d never previously encountered. I’ve been trying to recreate that particular bit of yum, but decided to simply create my own version instead.

P.S. some of the ingredients are nearly impossible to source unless you make your own

Let me tell you a story about making citron extract.

On the Jewish holiday of Sukkot (the one with the huts that in no way resemble she shacks) it’s traditional to celebrate the fall harvest and eat fruits you might not have eaten in the previous year. There’s also a blessing made on each of the 8 days that involves some date palm fronds and miscellaneous greenery (the lulav) as well as as near-perfect a citron as you can find (the etrog). Unlike a Buddha’s hand which you can find in specialty groceries, citrons tend to be rare and imported from Morocco or Israel. They’re also incredibly pricey, with some costing several hundred dollars around the holidays.

For as long as I can remember, my aunt Malku collected everyone’s citrons after the holidays and then soaked them and sweetened them and sliced them and created an incredibly complicated jelly dish.

I didn’t do that.

What I did do was create pure citron extract which smells heavenly, and adds a subtly bright and piquant essence to baked goods. Also to relish. I used citron extract in this one, you can use a good squeeze or two of a lemon and some lemon zest instead.

About the pepper jelly:

I made home-made pepper jelly, chilled it and then added to the cranberries. In the interest of saving time, you should probably just buy a jar. (Bonnie Farms Red Pepper Jelly available at Whole Foods is just great).


  • 1 bag of raw cranberries
  • 2 cups or more of water
  • 1/2-1 cup of maple syrup (more if you like things sweet)
  • 1 cup of prepared red pepper jelly
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of citron extract (or 1/2 tsp. lemon zest and 2 tsp. lemon juice)
  • 1/4 tsp. powdered cloves
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries
  • 1 tsp. rose water
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 tiny habanero pepper seeded and finely chopped
  • Stick of cinnamon (optional)


  • Place cranberries in a deep pot and cook slightly until they seem barely toasted. Add the water and cook until the berries start to pop. Add more water as needed. (if using the cinnamon stick, place in water and use only until the berries pop. Then remove or it will taste too cinnamony.
  • Add the dried cranberries and sour cherries (feel free to soak them in hot water if you prefer things softer, then reserve the water and use instead of plain water). Stir constantly so it doesn’t boil.
  • When cherries/cranberries seems to plump out a bit, add the chopped red pepper and habanero if you like a bit more heat. Add more water if needed.
  • Add maple syrup, citron or lemon juice, rose water, cloves, chili powder and stir.
    Add red pepper jelly and stir to blend.
  • Stir regularly so that the bottom doesn’t burn.
  • Allow to cool and then ladle into jars, or feel free to grab a spoon and snarf it all down!


I no longer use sugar to bake or cook, which can make jellies and preserves complicated. Sugar naturally prevents microorganisms from growing and also helps the gelling process, so it can be hit or miss with alternative sweeteners until you’re used to the newer textures.
Feel free to add pectin.

Till we beet again,


Did you make this recipe? Hashtag it #EvolvedFoodie and share on social media or below if you’re so inclined. I love to see your delicious dishes!

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