I don’t think there is any reason to rely on jarred, super sweet cranberry sauces when it’s so easy to make one with fresh cranberries that’s both delicious and healthy.

My friend Steve posted this Gingered Cranberry Fig Chutney over at food52 last year and since Thanksgiving is almost upon us, the recipe was on my mind.

I put my own spin on it of course, and was very pleased with the result.

Cranberries are extremely high in antioxidants. Studies show they contain compounds that help prevent harmful bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract. They may also prevent bacteria from sticking to other parts of the body, as well, including within the digestive tract and on the teeth.

This means cranberry consumption can help ward away bacterial infections. For cranberries to be most beneficial, they should not have much sweetener added, but they are decidedly less palatable this way. For this reason, I try not to use too much sugar in recipes like this cranberry chutney.

I’ve never cooked with juniper berries before. When I first sampled one, I was transported to the forest and reminded of pine: I really love what they bring to this chutney. Make sure to crush them before using to ensure you get the most out of their distinctive flavor.

You can certainly enjoy this at Thanksgiving (I will!), but it would also be great with other roasted meats. It’s also fantastic on turkey or ham sandwiches.

Recipe for Cranberry Chutney with Dried Apricots and Fresh Ginger

Adapted from the recipe for Gingered Cranberry Fig Chutney at food52 by Oui Chef Steve

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:

* 12 ounces fresh cranberries
* 1 large shallot, peeled and minced
* 1 large fuji (or other very crunchy) apple, peeled and diced
* 3/4 cup organic sugar
* 1/2 cup organic apple juice
* 1/4 cup dried apricots
* 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
* 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely minced
* juice of 1/2 large lemon (I used Meyer lemon)
* 1 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed with the side of a knife
*1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flaked- optional
* pinch of sea salt, plus more to taste
* pinch of ground cinnamon

Directions:

1. Add all the ingredients to a cast-iron skillet and bring to a boil.

2. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the chutney cooks down and thickens (about 20 minutes). Serve warm or chilled.