Low-bush cranberries are ready to be picked in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Low-bush cranberries are ready to be picked in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Kalifornsky Kitchen: Cranberry conundrum

I have enough cranberries to try multiple recipes. So I will.

By Victoria Petersen

For the Peninsula Clarion

If you can’t tell, I’m obsessed with berries and berry picking. Alaska has so many kinds to choose from and their uses are so versatile. This Labor Day weekend I went out with my friend and her mom to pick low-bush cranberries on their family friend’s property in Houston.

I’ve picked cranberries on the peninsula before, where they are also abundant.

What’s nice about picking low-bush cranberries, also known as lingonberries, is that you can usually plop down on the ground and just gather all the little ruby berries around you. It’s too easy.

After about an hour or so of picking, our Tupperware containers were full and we headed back home. On the drive through the Valley, we talked about all the possibilities for our berries — what they could become and how we could transform them into something super delicious.

This week, I’m going to call my grandma to see if she remembers the basics of a once-famous cranberry cookie recipe of hers to see if I can recreate it. She hasn’t been able to find the recipe, but in the 1970s, she won a holiday cookie contest in the now-defunct Anchorage Times newspaper.

When I was going to college at UAA I skimmed through some microfiche of holiday issues of the Anchorage Times in hopes of finding her name and recipe in print, but she wasn’t sure of the year and it could take forever to sift through pages and pages of old newspapers. I hope someday a copy of the recipe shows up, somewhere.

I have enough cranberries to try multiple recipes. So I will.

I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and make a cranberry crab apple sauce, inspired by my friend and fellow forager Natasha. She whipped out her family’s food mill and crushed softened crab apples into applesauce with honey and cranberries for sweetness and flavor.

I’m going to experiment with a similar process this week, and look for ways to do this without a food mill, since I don’t own one.

I’ll also be saving some cranberries in the freezer to be used around Thanksgiving for homemade sauce, which I like to make with orange zest and juice.

The berries should be available to pick for awhile, so grab a bucket and brainstorm with me about all the ways to use them.

Low-bush cranberries are gathered in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Low-bush cranberries are gathered in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

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Low-bush cranberries are gathered in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
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Kalifornsky Kitchen: Cranberry conundrum

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