Not many people can imagine a Thanksgiving spread without cranberries. Let’s look beyond the cranberry we shimmy out of cans and dig into the differences between other preparations.
Relishes: When we use cranberries as a condiment we’re using them as a relish, according to several dictionary entries that claim relish perks up what it’s served with, i.e. turkey. Typically relishes are made of pickled ingredients, in a grinder. For a Thanksgiving menu, however, many people prefer sweet relish that’s just a tad tart. To achieve the right flavor, use cranberries, apples, and oranges.
Jellies: Clear and bright, jellies have the ability to keep the shape of whatever they’re stored in. The main ingredients are fruit juice and sugar, though a jelly can be made with pectin, a gelatin-like agent used to thicken fruits that don’t have the ability to “gel” on their own.
Preserves: Thicker than jellies and jams, with chunks of fruit.
Conserve: Nuts give conserves more substance than jellies, preserves, and relishes. According to Epicurious, this preparation of cranberries uses a mix of fruits, nuts and sugar. Cooked until thick, it makes a nice spread for biscuits.
Sauce: Consistency really makes a difference when you’re talking cranberries. Cranberry sauce can be served loose, but it can also be referred to as jellied (see above). Without the presence of gelatin, cranberry sauce can be placed in a bowl on the table, whereas canned cranberry sauce made with gelatin can be sliced after it’s dispelled from the can.
Sources: wisegeek.com, ochef.com, historicfood.com, epicurious.com, kitchencdaily.com