I know, I know – Thanksgiving was months ago. But I don’t need a holiday to enjoy cranberry sauce slathered on a turkey sandwich, dolloped onto mashed potatoes, or glazed over a roasted chicken. I also don’t need a holiday to enjoy this cranberry walnut galette, which I brought to a party a couple of weeks ago. What I do need, apparently, is a way to keep track of what is in my own fridge. Specifically – cranberries. Thawing. Waiting to be used in said cranberry galette, when instead, I pulled out another 3 cups of cranberries from the freezer and let them thaw. While the original 3 cups of cranberries sat patiently in their bowl, buried under the cheese drawer and a Ziploc full of leeks, getting all wrinkly and a little sad. By the time I unearthed them from the depths of the fridge, they were destined for one thing: cranberry sauce.
Cranberry sauce may just be the easiest condiment to make, ever. I really don’t know why anyone would buy it; not only is it so easy to make, it is so easy to customize to exactly the flavor & texture you want. Cranberries contain a lot of natural pectin, so the sauce naturally thickens without a lot of sugar or thickeners such as cornstarch, flour or gelatin. The cranberry’s tart flavor plays nicely with a wide variety of flavor profiles: some people prefer the warm, winter flavors, like port wine, cinnamon & nutmeg; orange & cranberry is a classic, while cranberries with rosemary & juniper is an earthy, modern twist; I love cranberries with chile peppers and ginger, but my version below combines orange, white wine and fennel. However you like them, there’s no denying the cranberry sauce is quick, easy & delicious: why not make some today?
Easy Cranberry Sauce
- 3 cups (about 10 oz) cranberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup orange juice
- zest of 1 orange
- 1/2 cup fruity chardonnay or other white wine
- 3/4 cup raw sugar (organic turbinado)
- 1 tbsp white wine vingear (or lemon juice)
- 1/2 tsp fennel seed
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low; simmer until sauce thickens and flavors blend, about 15 – 25 minutes (most cranberries will pop). Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Yields about 3 and 1/2 cups.
- This recipe is easily acidic enough for safe water-bath canning: fill jars to 1/4-inch headspace and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. If not canning, you may want to cut the above recipe in half, which would yield slightly less than 1 pint of sauce.
- For a smoother sauce, buzz the cranberries through a food processor prior to cooking, or blend with an immersion blender while cooking. To ensure a sufficient quantity of whole cranberries in the final sauce, reserve about 1/2 cup and add in the last 10 mintues.
- Sugar can be replaced with honey (use about 1/3 – 1/2 cup); the final texture will be a bit less thick, and refrigerated storage time will be slightly shorter.
Refrigerated, about 1 month. Canned, in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.
Late Fall through Winter.