National Cranberry Relish Day is celebrated as the perfect precursor for Thanksgiving on November 22. Born out of love for one of three surviving Native American fruits, the day honors the quintessential American pairing of cranberry and Thanksgiving. We cannot imagine a Thanksgiving meal without a dipping of traditional cranberry sauce, and even the best classics deserve a rendition. Cranberry relish is prepared with some surprise ingredients — horseradish and onion — and nothing cuts through the tart of these red rubies like the zing of an onion. Talking about the holiday season, let’s include National Cranberry Relish Day on the list of things we are thankful for.
History of National Cranberry Relish Day
Originating in the streets of New England, cranberry relish has been a seasonal delicacy since the 20th century, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that the dish gained national prominence. “The Splendid Table,” a nationally syndicated radio show programmed by the American Public Media, is the reason many in the country have come to know and love cranberry relish. The show’s original host, Lynne Rossetto Kasper, would bring in guests from around the country to share unique perspectives and delicious local recipes with the audience.
One fall morning, Kasper invited NPR special correspondent Susan Stamberg to share her take on holiday dishes in a quest to “make something tasty out of the ordinary.” In a back and forth about Thanksgiving side dishes, Stamberg shared her mother-in-law’s cranberry relish recipe. “Add a dollop of sour cream, and make sure you chop them radishes extra-fine,” she said, and the rest is history. That was the day the cranberry-loving community added another great recipe to their staples, and the U.S. got the National Cranberry Relish Day. On further digging, we found that a Craig Claiborne dish inspired the recipe Stamberg shared. Stumble upon any household in the U.S., utter the words ‘Mama Stamberg’s Relish,’ and get ready to be served with the creamy and tangy scoop of heavenly cranberry relish.
A day that brings forth the relish of cranberries must be celebrated. If you are daydreaming about the tangy drippings of this red fruit and the meaty bite of turkey that follows, you should brace up for November 22.
National Cranberry Relish Day timeline
Revolutionary War Veteran Henry Hall formally cultivates and ships cranberries to neighboring states for the first time.
Reverend Benjamin Eastwood publishes a book on cranberry cultivation after a boom in sales during the Civil War.
Wisconsin grower John Gaynor, and fruit broker A.U. Chaney, establish the Wisconsin Cranberry Sales Company to organize cranberry trade across the U.S.
NPR correspondent Susan Stamberg introduces the country to her mother-in-law’s signature cranberry relish recipe.
National Cranberry Relish Day FAQs
What is the difference between cranberry sauce and cranberry relish?
Cranberry sauce is a sweetened concentration of chopped cranberry, cooked and reduced through heat. In contrast, cranberry relish is an uncooked cranberry grind blended with horseradish, onion, and sour cream in a food processor.
Can I eat cranberries raw?
Yes. Cranberries are safe for raw consumption. Although, the natural tartness of the red fruit can be a bit off-putting to some people, which is why 95% of the harvested cranberries are further processed with additional sugar to make juice and sauce.
What are the ingredients for an easy cranberry relish?
To make an easy rendition of cranberry relish, you need cranberries, sugar, and an unpeeled orange. Just toss the cranberries and orange slices into a food processor and grind them till the ingredients are evenly minced. Pour the puree into a bowl and stir in the sugar.
National Cranberry Relish Day Activities
Make your own version of cranberry relish
Although the original recipe calls for the addition of horseradish and onions, we have to admit it isn’t a match for everyone’s palette. No worries, though! You can replace them with orange slices, and this simple switch keeps up with the zest and adds another layer of tangy flavor.
Organize a fruit picking session
November is a great month for harvest, as top-tier fruits like apples, bananas, kiwi, and grapes become primed for picking. This National Cranberry Relish Day, pay a visit to a nearby orchard with your friends and family.
Host a family-only sauce making party
There is a lot that goes into a simple batch of cranberry sauce. From cleaning the berries to sorting out the toppings and picking the perfect wine, it sounds like a fun family activity for November 22.
5 Juicy Facts About The Humble Cranberry To Relish Your Day With
Here since the dawn of time
Cranberries are native to America and have been in cultivation since the 1550s.
Germany strikes again
‘Cranberry’ comes from the German word ‘Kraanbere,’ which translates to ‘Craneberry.’
It’s a rebel among the others
Unlike every other berry, cranberries are so low in sugar that sweeteners are added to the juice to make it appetizing.
It’s all water, honey
Cranberries are 90% water, so eat a bunch and meet your hydration goals for the day.
The Natives know, the Native sow
Native Americans have been using cranberries for medicinal purposes way before modern science pointed out their inherent health benefits.
Why We Love National Cranberry Relish Day
It celebrates the most intriguing Native American fruit
From the Narragansett people of the Algonquian nation in the 1550s all the way to present-day New England, cranberry has come a long way and is one of the only three surviving Native American fruits.
It ushers in the Thanksgiving Day spirit
Think of Thanksgiving, and you will see the bright red tart goodness sitting right across the turkey. A fruit that can make such an impact on a day when you get away with drinking at 4 P.M. deserves recognition.
Cranberries are the best of both worlds
Cranberry relish is incredibly delicious and really nutritious — a combination of cranberries, onions, and horseradish packs vitamins, antioxidants, and so much more. Don’t mind us storing a batch that lasts the entire month of November.
National Cranberry Relish Day dates