This is my favorite time of year in Anchorage. The air is crisp and smells of earth and cranberries. Cranberries are my favorite wild berry to pick because they are durable, high in nutritive value and they freeze well. They can also be substituted for any recipe that calls for commercial cranberries.
I only pick low-bush cranberries, also called lingonberries. These short plants can be found in most Anchorage forests. They have round, shiny leaves and if there’s enough sunlight during the summer they bear tart, red berries. High-bush cranberries, which are abundant in Anchorage, have a similar flavor but they have a large seed in each berry, must be strained during processing and aren’t pleasing to eat whole.
One would be inclined to harvest low-bush cranberries when they are at their brightest red color, but it’s best to wait until after the first frost when they’ve turned a deep wine red. I don’t know the science behind it, but the berries become juicier after they’ve endured a frost.
I’m not much of a bakist, so I was surprised by how thick the batter was. Have no fear, for these muffins were fluffy, tart, sweet and zesty. It’s like a party in my mouth!
Wild Cranberry & Lemon Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
scant 1/3 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup melted coconut oil, cooled
1 cup low-bush cranberries, frozen or thawed
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients and the lemon zest.
In another bowl combine the milk, egg and oil.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. The batter should be lumpy and wet, but almost the consistency of dough. If it’s too dry add a little more milk. Fold in the cranberries and divide batter into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let cool for a few minutes before removing muffins from tin and placing on a cooling rack.