If you bring cranberry relish to the Thanksgiving table this year, you’ll be eating a food that long predates the holiday. Members of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) have been harvesting sasumuneash (sour berries) on Martha’s Vineyard, MA, for thousands of years, using them to flavor and preserve meat, dye textiles and prevent illnesses. Today the berries are still central to Aquinnah Wampanoag culture: Tribe members celebrate Cranberry Day in the fall with traditional foods like chowder, quahogs, venison and, of course, cranberries. Stay true to the berry’s native roots this year and try a relish recipe from the National Museum of the American Indian.
Dice 8 ounces unpeeled crab apples or Granny Smith apples and cook in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries and cook until they start releasing their liquid, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar and stir to dissolve. Add 1/4 cup cranberry juice, taste and add more sugar if necessary. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days.