Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish Takes Heat From One Of The Family's Own : The Salt It's the Friday before Thanksgiving. That means it's time for NPR's Susan Stamberg's traditional recipe that "sounds terrible but tastes terrific" — though her granddaughter begs to differ.
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Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish Takes Heat From One Of The Family's Own

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Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish Takes Heat From One Of The Family's Own

Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish Takes Heat From One Of The Family's Own

Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish Takes Heat From One Of The Family's Own

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/564320714/564752487" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

It's great when generations get together to pass down family traditions, especially if the little ones might need a little extra time to get on board. Raquel Zaldivar/NPR hide caption

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Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

It's great when generations get together to pass down family traditions, especially if the little ones might need a little extra time to get on board.

Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

For the past almost-50 years, I've been sharing an old family Thanksgiving recipe with NPR listeners. Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish comes from my late mother-in-law Marjorie Stamberg, who served it in Allentown, Pa., when I was brought there to be inspected by my future in-laws.

I thought it was delicious, made it every year at Thanksgiving, and because I like tradition, wanted to give listeners a tradition of their own. I always warn them that it's a recipe that sounds awful (whoever heard of putting onion and horseradish in with cranberries?), but tastes terrific. And it does! Trust me.

Sure, a modern fancy food processor might get the job done with more flourish, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned meat grinder. Raquel Zaldivar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Sure, a modern fancy food processor might get the job done with more flourish, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned meat grinder.

Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Each year, it's been a challenge to find a new way of presenting the recipe on the air. One year, a rap artist helped me talk about it. Another year, Martha Stewart — just out of jail – gave it her seal of approval, and another year I found a way to insinuate it into the Monica Lewinsky-Bill Clinton scandal.

This year, I made "tradition" the theme. At home every year my son and I make it together. This year, his 8-year-old daughter, Vivian, got into the act — with mixed results. When we were finished grinding and mixing, she tried it.

Her verdict: "I'm never tasting it again."

Hoping you'll be more adventurous.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish

The relish has a tangy taste that cuts through and perks up the turkey and gravy. It's also good on next-day turkey sandwiches, and with roast beef.

2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed

The Recipe's Origins

As Susan Stamberg has noted, her mother-in-law got the recipe from a 1959 New York Times clipping of Craig Claiborne's recipe for cranberry relish. In 1993, Claiborne told Stamberg: "Susan, I am simply delighted. We have gotten more mileage, you and I, out of that recipe than almost anything I've printed."

1 small onion

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbs horseradish from a jar (red is a bit milder than white)

Grind the raw berries and onion together. (I use an old-fashioned meat grinder. I'm sure there's a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind — not a puree.)

Add everything else and mix.

Put in a plastic container and freeze.

Several hours before serving, move it from the freezer to the refrigerator compartment to thaw. (It should still have some icy slivers left.)

The relish will be thick, creamy and shocking pink. (OK, Pepto-Bismol pink.)

Makes 1 1/2 pints.