Thanksgiving Recipes – Molded Cranberry Salad

Dan and I had our best tasting Thanksgiving dinner to date.  It was a mix of modern and retro. I of course cooked the historic recipes. One of the items I made was a molded gelatine salad. Many early 20th century Thanksgiving menus feature a molded salad. You may have “fond” memories of your mother or grandmother’s molded salad. It was either a horror that you dreaded, or perhaps you enjoyed the super sweetness that made it more a dessert than a salad. (As time crept into the 70s, molded salads had become super sweet featuring marshmallows for one thing).

Dan’s mom always made molded salads, but for some reason we never had them. I think Mom knew I loathed jello as a child. It all stems from mouth surgery I had at age 13. While taking X-rays for my braces, the doctors noticed a black spot on the roof of my mouth. Although my parents kept it a secret from me, the doctors were worried this was a tumor, so in I went to the hospital for surgery. I stayed in for several days and the only thing they served me to eat afterwards was jello. Jello, jello, and more jello for several weeks. I swore I would never eat any more jello after that, and my Mom must have listened. Oh the good news was that I didn’t have a tumor, but rather a hole in my head! I jokingly tell people the doctors filled it up with chewing gum and I was good to go.

The Encyclopedia of Cooking - a mid-century classic

Now as an adult, I can eat jello though I don’t. But a molded Cranberry Salad from Marta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, 1947, looked like the perfect salad for Thanksgiving.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 3/4 c. ground raw cranberries, 2 cups whole (I took this to mean measure 2 c. cranberries, and then I cheated and ground them in the Cuisinart)
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 5 tsp. plain gelatine
  • 1 c. apple juice
  • lettuce and mayonnaise for decoration ( I didn’t use the mayonnaise)

Wash, sort and grind the cranberries. Add orange juice, sugar, and salt and set in refrigerator to chill.

Cheating - using the Cuisinart

Meanwhile, soften gelatin in 1/4 c. of the apple juice. Heat rest of the juice to boiling. Pour over softened gelatin and stir to dissolve thoroughly. Combine all ingredients except lettuce and mayonnaise, pour into 3 cup mold that has been rinsed with cold water. Chill until firm. Unmold on flat serving dish. Surround with lettuce and serve with mayonnaise.

Beautiful and festive molded cranberry salad - I didn't even think about how the mold I chose reflected the cranberries shape.

The result was quite tasty and very beautiful! The uncooked cranberries were delightfully crunchy and tart, with the apple flavored gelatin complementing the tartness of the cranberries. The only “issue” was that the cranberries floated to the top of the mold (which of course became the bottom after unmolding) and they weren’t as encased in the gelatin as one would hope.

In reading my nifty little Knox Gelatine recipe pamphlets, I learned that if I let the gelatin congeal slightly first and then mix in the cranberries, it would have resulted in a more perfect salad. Armed with this new knowledge I look forward to my next gelatine dainty.

Let me know if you have holiday molded gelatine stories to share.


One Response to “Thanksgiving Recipes – Molded Cranberry Salad”

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  1. Bev says:

    I have one that my mom always made. It has a pineapple dressing that goes over when it’s served. Yum! maybe I’ll made it soon because all of a sudden it sounds good!

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