Ocean Spray just celebrated its 85th birthday and with Thanksgiving around the corner, we decided to share a little bit about Cape Cod’s famous fruit. From the first Thanksgiving table to Ocean Spray’s giggly jelly to a modern day “superfruit,” the cranberry has become synonymous with Cape Cod since its first recorded cultivation two hundred years ago.  However, this wonderberry was in use long before the Europeans took to farming it on a large scale. The native Pequot Indians of Cape Cod took full advantage of the bitter fruit’s natural attributes, using it in a versatile range of culinary, medicinal and household products.  Nowadays, we take for granted all of the different forms in which we find the cranberry, but the humble fruit still remains one of only three native North American berries that are commercially grown in the United States- the other two being blueberries and Concord grapes. Cranberry bogs are now developed throughout peaty wetlands in many northern states, but commercial cultivation began around 1810 in Dennis, Massachusetts.  Read the full story of America’s Wonderberry and how it saved Cape Cod from economic depression in Discover Cape Cod.  In the meantime, enjoy Shawnie’s original recipe for Cranberry Hot Pepper Jelly, which brings a little taste of Cape Cod and a colorful kick to your holiday table.

Cranberry Hot Pepper Jelly Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: 1 cup

Recipe by Shawnie Kelley

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 red chilies (jalapeno or Fresno), seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons liquid pectin or mix 4 teaspoons sugar-free powdered pectin into sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups frozen cranberries, frozen & thawed


Combine peppers, chiles, sugar, red pepper flakes and salt in a heavy wide pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Stir in pectin and lemon juice. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Stir in cranberries and simmer gently until they pop open and juice thicken, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer jelly to a jar or ramekin, let cool, and cover. Will keep for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Variation: use blueberries.
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