My daughter had her semi-annual bout of stomach bug a few weeks back. Typically I have a few batches of curative bone broth on hand, which is, I hope you agree, a much nicer alternative to [doctor recommended — shudder!] sports drinks, juices and pharmaceutical electrolyte junkstuffs. But my kid for some reason lost all appreciation for bone broth exactly when she needed it most, go figure!
Her stomach and overall dehydrated and low-energy system still required some help, and I started poking around in search of the solution. Then I remembered that my mom used to make us this drink thing called kissel when we were kids. It was usually a drink made from cranberries with some potato or corn starch; in consistency it resembled thin pudding. It was filling, pleasing to taste buds, tart, slightly sweet and nutritious. I start reading and find that not only is this thing tasty and nutritious, it’s practically indispensable for people with all sorts of digestive disorders. Naturally, in my GMO paranoia, I get all shy of the corn starch, but I remembered that I had recently purchased some tapioca for one of my Literary Works projects. Turns out that tapioca is also quite caloric and nutritious and helpful with digestive issues, so it was a double win.
Upon further research on kissel, I found this helpful write up which picked my interest even more. Turns out that the original kissel was basically a fermented and strained porridge, which goes nicely along with traditional nutrition principles. Fermentation of the oatmeal overcomes grain’s natural defenses, thus releasing maximum nutrition and making it readily available for absorption; and further removal of the coarse elements makes it gentle on digestion. There are some interesting legends associated with kissel. I’ll be definitely trying some of the more traditional ways in the near future. But for now, you have my cranberry concoction, which isn’t half bad.
Yields about 5-6 cups
- 1 lbs fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup honey or sugar (or more if you prefer it sweeter)
- pinch of salt
- 4 cups water
- 4 generous tbsp tapioca (not the instant kind, I used Bob’s Red Mill small pearl kind)
- 3-4 thick lemon slices
- Combine sugar or honey with cranberries in a saucepan and put on medium/high heat
- Bring to a boil, constantly stirring, and cook until cranberries burst.
- Add water, bring to a boil, add lemon slices and tapioca and simmer gently, stirring occasionally from the bottom up, for at least 20 minutes, or until tapioca is completely dissolved.
- Strain through a sieve, squeezing as much liquid as possible out of the berries. Discard the cranberry hulls and lemons.
- Cool just until manageable and drink/sip/slurp or eat with a spoon if desire.