Everybody has a favorite food during the holidays. Mine is cranberry sauce. I look forward to this treat every year with much anticipation and delight. I can easily overlook the turkey or the mashed potatoes, but I never forget to have a generous amount of cranberry sauce on my plate. Besides, since I have never had a predilection for anything sweet, these tart berries really hit the spot for me.
For years I have wondered about that sad, gelatinous version of cranberry sauce that comes in a can. It contains very little cranberry and a whole lot of sugar. That resounding “plop” that you hear when it comes out of the can might be the best (and most nutritious) aspect of it. If you are going to consume that much sugar, you should really be waiting until your dessert comes around. In any case, the flat taste of that type of cranberry sauce is just not right. It simply won’t do.
Surprisingly, homemade cranberry sauce is very easy to make. There is no reason why anyone should just sit back and settle for slicing some gloppy jelly right out of a can. No amount of convenience compensates you for having to eat that stuff.
You are in for a treat if you have never made this sauce. The best part is the option to change it slightly each time you make it. I am a very intuitive cook and enjoy experimenting with new flavors. A bit of dried pineapple, some crystallized ginger or a stick of cinnamon will transform the sauce ever so subtly by altering its flavor profile in unexpected ways. I have no doubt that you will look forward to it not just for Thanksgiving but also for Christmas. It just makes the holidays taste the way they should.
It is a bonus that you need so very few ingredients and the preparation it’s simplicity itself. You can even make it ahead of the big day and all the flavors will have time to come together. If you are the proud owner of a small pot and a spoon, you are ready to make the best cranberry sauce you’ve ever tasted.
1 lb fresh cranberries
1/2 large orange (juice & zest)
1 tsp finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup pure cherry juice
Rinse the cranberries and place in a pot. Mince the crystallized ginger (it’ll add a negligible amount of sugar) and add it to the pot. Zest the orange into the pot as well, and then squeeze the orange juice over the cranberries. Do this over a colander to avoid having to fish for the seeds. Set the temperature on medium heat and watch the cranberries as they start to simmer and fall apart. Stir constantly to keep the cranberries from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the maple syrup and the cherry juice. The cherry flavor will give your sauce an unexpected depth. Simmer gently with a lid on until the sauce thickens. Do not overcook it. This sauce tends to become even more solid as it cools. You can keep it in the refrigerator until the next day. Bring it to the table at room temperature.