“…as why are Strawberries sweet and Cranberries sowre, there is no reason but the wonderfull worke of God that made them so…(John Eliot, 1647)
Fen grapes, marish worts, mosse-berries, moore-berries, fenberries, bearberries, cramberries…..how can one little bouncing berry have so many aliases? Whatever they’ve been called, cranberries, especially in sauce form, have long been part of the traditional Thanksgiving table.
But sauce isn’t the only thing they’re good for. John Josslyn in 1672 suggests: “Some make Tarts with them as with Goose Berries.” So take your favorite gooseberry tart recipe…..right, we’re not making many gooseberry tarts these days. Since that’s the case, try this one:
To make Gooseberrie Tarts.
Take a pint of Gooseberries, and put them into a quarter of a pound of Sugar, and two spoonfuls of water, and put them on the fire, and stir them as you did the former. ‘
- I., W. A True Gentlewomans Delight. London:1653. Falconwood Press, Albany NY: 1991. p. 19.
How many berries in a pint? A Pint’s a Pound the World Around. Cooking berries in a little water with an equal amount of sugar reminds me of the recipe on the back of the cranberry bag for cranberry sauce. It seems now we’re using cranberries like gooseberries!
Cranberry tarts and cranberry pies were a part of the New England table through the 20 th century. They are a very refreshing way to end a big turkey dinner. So this year, skip the sauce and make your cranberry TART.
“…yn take a quart of fine flower, & put ye rest of ye butter to it in little bits, with 4 or 5 spoonfulls of faire water, make ye paste of it & when it is well mingled beat it on a table & soe roule it out.”
- Martha Washington’s Book of Cookery. Karen Hess, ed. pp 130-1)
2 cups all purpose FLOUR
6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) BUTTER
½ teaspoon SALT
1 teaspoons SUGAR
6 tablespoon cold WATER
Mix flour with salt and sugar. Work butter in until it’s crumbly. Add water and mix and mash until it holds together. Add a little more it it’s not holding together, but not too much. When it forms into a great big ball, divide into two parts, Shape into 2 disks, cover with plastic wrap or put into a plastic bag so it doesn’t dry out and let it sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes and up to overnight. This makes enough for TWO pastry shells or a top AND bottom crust for a pie. If you’re making one tart, you can freeze the other half of the pastry for up to two months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
12 oz CRANBERRIES (1 bag) – pick out sticks and leaves
¾ Cup SUGAR
1 or 2 Tablespoons WATER
Put water, sugar and picked over cranberries in saucepan. Put them on medium high heat. Stir frequently. When the berries are mostly popped and the sauce is thick remove from heat. (If this sounds almost exactly like the recipe for the sauce on the back of the cranberry bag, that’s because so far it is!) Let cool.
Roll out half the pastry to line a 9” pie pan. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and bake in a 375 oven for 7-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool slightly.
Scraped cranberry into baked pie shell and smooth over the top. Bake in a 350 oven for 15-20 minutes or until firm. Cool completely before serving. Makes on 9” tart.