Cranberry Aigre Doux
Mr. Paul Virant, author of The Preservation Kitchen, claims that aigre-doux means sweet and sour. He also uses the term mostarda, and there are mostarda recipes in his book as well.
He states that both terms describe “preserves for cheese snobs and wine geeks.” Well that got my attention! They are supposedly not interchangeable terms, but both “frequently mix fruit with wine, vinegar, and spices.” Confusing? Yes, a little.
His book was published in April of 2012. The first recipe that I made from the book that summer was Blueberry Aigre-Doux. It was simply a matter of putting fresh blueberries in canning jars, covering them with a spiced wine “syrup,” then canning the jars. When I was ready to sample the blueberry aigre-doux, I served it with a log of goat cheese and it was fabulous.
He also has recipes for vegetables aigre-doux. I have made and posted on butternut squash aigre-doux; here I used the squash on a salad. The squash was outstanding.
Being that I made the blueberry aigre-doux a few months before I started my blog, there is no photographic evidence of it. But I knew I would be making the cranberry version. Now I’m making it again. It’s that good.
When my daughter first tasted this cranberry aigre-doux a few years ago when she was visiting, she claimed that “it tastes like Christmas!” That is a perfect description.
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons red table wine
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 vanilla beans, split in half with seeds scraped out
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
4 star anise
7 cups or so fresh cranberries
Rinse the cranberries, remove any bad ones, then let them dry on a clean dish towel.
In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring the wine, honey, vinegar, salt, and vanilla bean pod and seeds to a boil.
I decided to add a cinnamon stick to the wine mixture, even though it’s not in the recipe.
Scald 4 pint jars in a large pot of simmering water fitted with a rack – you will use this pot to process the jars. Right before filling, put the jars on the counter.
Add 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns and 1 star anise to each jar. Extract the vanilla bean haves from the wine-honey liquid and place one in each jar.
Pack in the cranberries, using about 6 ounces per jar. Meanwhile, soak the lids in a pan of hot water to soften the rubber seal.
Transfer the wine-honey liquid to a heat-proof pitcher and pour over the cranberries, leaving a 1/2″ space from the rim of the jar. Check the jars for air pockets, adding more liquid if necessary to fill in gaps. Wipe the rims with a clean towel, seal with the lids, then screw on the bands until snug but not tight.
Place the jars in the pot with the rack and add enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil and process the jars for 15 minutes (start the timer when the water reaches a boil). Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the water for a few minutes. Remove the jars from the water and let cool completely.
The aigre-doux is quite liquid. Mr. Virant suggests that one “strain the liquid and set aside the cranberries. In a small pot over medium heat, reduce the liquid by half. Stir in the cranberries and serve warm.”
He calls it an “ideal holiday condiment.”
I served the cranberry aigre-doux over softened cream cheese.
It is very good with goat cheese as well.
Serve with croissant toasts, as I did, or water crackers.
Oooh this sounds and looks like just my thing. I just looked up tupelo honey, and the online shops sell it for around … 60$. I’m going to have to try this with a light acacia honey, I think.
I’ve just pulled out my canning jars, too, so this is perfect to make for the Christmas season, I think.
It is so so good – you have to make it! But you do have to pick out the peppercorns out of the cranberries. funny about the honey – it was a gift. I had no idea that is was so expensive!
Oh thanks for the peppercorn tip. I don’t think the tupelo is that expensive in the States, just as an import here…
Oh yes, I always forget where you are!
I have been looking for cranberries everywhere here in Sicily but they aren’t available. Maybe I will just use cherry jam.
Oh. No! I’m so sorry. The holidays wouldn’t be the same without cranberries to me.
This looks SO good! I love fruits in red wine and I know I’ll have tons of leftover cranberries soon, so I will definitely try this next week. Thanks for the inspiration! :)
You will love it. You have to pick out the peppercorns, so it might be smarter to put them and the allspice in a tiny muslin bag. I wasn’t smart enough to think about doing that! Until now!
I have never heard of Aigre Doux before but this looks and sounds fantastic! Your photos are stunning.
Well I think the guy made it up. His descriptions are complicated, but the recipes are wonderful!
Ugh now I miss cranberries even more… Also, are you planning on posting a mostarda recipe? That could be interesting!
PS I’m back! Don’t know if you remember me but I definitely remember you :)
Yes of course I do! Welcome back – hope everything’s good!
In Italy my aunts often made vegetables agro dolce which I guess was probably something similar. I was too young to thing of asking for recipes back then 😉 This sounds wonderful and would be lovely on our English Christmas table with cold meats and cheeses. We should have cranberries appearing soon in the shops so will be trying this out!
My French mother had never even heard this term – I think the guy made it up! But whatever it is, it’s fabulous!
Oh, I absolutely must try. My taste buds are tingling! Do I say that every time I visit here? Your recipes always seem to have that effect on me.
That’s so sweet – thank you!
You make the most amazing recipes! This looks fab, Christmas for sure. :)
Thank you so much!
Oh my goodness Mimi that looks outrageously good!
It really is outrageously good…
Lovely Chef Mimi – if only I could get my hands on fresh cranberries! Here in Australia all I’ve ever seen are dried ones….
Oh no! I never realized this until I heard from some Australian bloggers. There’s no real substitute, either, is there?!
Hi – I haven’t come across a substitute but perhaps other types of berries could work or even cherries….lucky you having those fresh cranberries so readily available!
Chef Mimi your recipes are amazingly great!
Thank you so much!
Oh lovely, we don’t see fresh cranberries over here but what a great accompaniment to the Chrissy ham this would be!
You don’t? That’s so sad!
Reblogged this on Chef Ceaser.
This looks amazing. xx
It really is!
Sounds like an interesting book. This recipe sure looks interesting! And good. And new to me — thanks for the intro. Happy Thanksgiving!
You’re welcome. I need to keep making recipes from this book – they’re so unique!
Mimi, this sounds DELICIOUS! I always learn so much from you. Thank you for the post and happy Thanksgiving!
That is so sweet – thank you!
As both a cheese snob and a wine geek I appreciate the differences in the condiments you describe here. I think your cranberry version is perfect for my T-Gives cheese course. WHich is always a part of my holiday celebration. GREG
Of course it is! Cheese belongs at every kind of celebration!
Looks yummy, Mimi. Cranberries are aigre-doux by themselves, but this takes them over the top. Is there any wait time between canning and eating?
I would just call them tart, myself, but they are certainly unique! No, there’s no waiting time once the cranberries are cooked and preserved.
Ok so you if you want to make a (smaller) batch for immediate use, there is no need to can?
Good question. Canning allows the cranberries to cook in the syrup, but you could cook the cranberries in the syrup over low heat. They don’t “burst” during the canning process, which is interesting.
Gorgeous, Mimi, both the recipe and the photographs. Another one to add to my to-do list! Thanks, Lx.
I think you would love it Linda!
I’m quite sure I would!
I’m going to give this a try as I can think of several holiday dishes I make that it would compliment (if not steal the show from). Thanks Mimi and happy weekend to you.
You are so welcome!
Beautiful! The cherry mostarda from that book is one of the best things I’ve ever made.
So good to know!
Absolutely wonderful Mimi! A jar would make a wonderful gift.
It would be a wonderful gift!
Wow Mimi – this is just fantastic. I haven’t been so excited about a recipe for a while. Will go through it in details because I see there were some interesting questions asked too. The blueberry also appeals to me. Do you remember it well enough to know which version you liked better? Cannot wait to try this. So glad you posted it!! xo
Both recipes were very similar. The blueberry version really lent itself to summer indulging, but the cranberry version really screams holiday.
Mimi, I am crazy wild to try this! I’m buying extra cranberries! And checking my jars & lids to make sure I have enough…Thanks for posting this fabulous condiment!!
The lids always disappear, don’t they?!! Have fun with this – you’ll be addicted!
Well, I just went and bought more cranberries! :)
Sounds incredibly good, Mimi. Cranberry sauce for adults… !