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Recipe: Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Nov 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Week! It's my favorite holiday of the year, because there's not as much pressure as Christmas but just as much food. And, at least in my life, it's been the food that's held more tradition than the family practice. That means Thanksgiving can be awesome anywhere (last year I told you about my Thanksgiving in Paris, the most memorable Thanksgiving ever!).

This year I'm jetting to Seattle to spend Thanksgiving with my dad's side of the family on my aunt's farm. When I received the invitation in the mail, I realized I've never spent it with these family members. How is it possible I've gone 30 years without tasting my dad's family recipes on this special day? I'll still require my mama's cooking (asparagus casserole is my fave!), but I'm really looking forward to what a West Coast Thanksgiving will be like.

However, I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be one unwelcome dish on the table, because it appears on most tables this time of year.  It's canned cranberry sauce, and it's one food tradition that must be broken.

Do you wax nostalgic when you see an aluminum can of so-called "cranberry sauce" on the grocery store shelf, between the green beans and canned corn?  Do you remember being tasked as a child to open said can before the glorious turkey dinner, and as you felt the gelatinous tube of lined "sauce" wiggle out of the can and onto a dish, landing with a disgusting *slop!*, you felt proud of yourself for being such a good helper? Does a round slice of purplish jelly next to your turkey bring back warm memories of home?

Well get over it. You're not a kid anymore. This year, impress them all with the real stuff!

Let me tell you how easy it is (I'm not even going to look at a recipe, I'm just going to tell you):

1) Buy a bag of cranberries. It's in the produce section, ask for help because it's in a different place in every store I've been to.

2) Go home and rinse them.

3) In a pot, dissolve a cup of sugar and a cup of water over low heat.

4) Add cranberries and put on medium heat.

5) Let simmer for 10 minutes. You want the cranberries to pop during these 10 minutes. I take a whisk and mash them up to help out the process.

6) You're finished. Put the sauce in a bowl or some Tupperware and refrigerate until you're ready to eat it. 

Extra Credit: Grate an orange peel and add the peel and the juice to the sauce while it's simmering.  I also like to put a little cinnamon in it.

And voila!

I put mine in a vintage green dish I found at a thrift store a few  years ago. I find the green against the cranberries looks festive. Much better than than this...

...wouldn't you say?


  1. I have you to thank for one pseudo Thanksgiving hosted at your apartment. Since then I have only made homemade cranberry sauce for something like nine or ten years now. Just fixed up my batch last night and put it in muffin tins to freeze and pull out as needed for the big day and leftovers afterward! Happy memories :)

  2. I remember that Thanksgiving! Love the idea of freezing it in muffin tins.

  3. Sorry I'm not sorry, but the canned stuff is so much better! We always have amazing homemade cranberry salad, and I prefer the can. It's the one time of year I eat it and I can't wait. :)

  4. I'm going to try that. Thanks!

    My mother has made my paternal Grandmother's cranberry sauce all of my life. She spends days and days and days on it. It's a whole big process. Full oranges and lemons, rinds and all, sugar, nuts and lord knows what else. I don't think any of my siblings know the recipe, and we really should get on that, as someone has to keep the sauce in the family.

  5. Yes, the real berries are better, easy to make, and worth the small effort. The tower of burgundy (that ain't pink, sorry) jelly is Space Age travesty.

    But: that's just how it is in my very small household. A jelly-mold of a can, split in half, in the same cut-glass serving-dish thing, every year.

    That's just how it is, you know?

    When mom dies I'll make berries.