I do a homemade cranberry sauce. While growing up I remember cranberry sauce, jellied, sitting in a bowl in the shape of the can it came out of. My mom would slice the roll into 1/4 inch slices, so when you took some cranberry "sauce" there would be a round slab of red stiff jelly on your plate. That's how I thought cranberry sauce was supposed to look.
Then, when I got a little older and ventured to other family's thanksgivings I learned there was something call "whole berry" cranberry sauce. Mixed in the "jelly" were berries of the "cran" variety, and this stuff did not come out of its can in a formed lump. Very interesting and dang, good!
About five or six years ago I decided to try my hand at making my own cranberry sauce. They wouldn't sell bags of whole cranberries by the truckload if this was a difficult task. So I bought my first bag of cranberries and set out to make my own.
Upon researching how to make cranberry "relish" I was shocked to see most recipes required on three ingredients: cranberries, rinsed and picked through for mushy ones or the occasional stem, water, and sugar. Of course some recipes got exotic, so I quickly dismissed those. A few recipes included orange, either grated peel, or strips of peel, and/or chopped up orange segments. That sounded interesting.
So you wash and pick through your three cups of cranberries while you have one cup of water** and one cup of sugar on the stove. Bring the sugar-water concoction up to a boil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. You are making a light syrup. Grate the peel of half an orange, and cut slices from the other half, avoiding the pith (that bitter white stuff under the peel but before the flesh), like you do for marmalade. When the sugar-water comes to a boil, add the cranberries and the orange peel. Keep it up to a boil, stirring.
Within minutes you will start hearing this popping sound. The cranberries are bursting, letting their pectin go, just stir and continue on for eight to ten minutes, if you want a little tighter concoction just stir and boil until the stuff gets thick, however, it gels up pretty good without much help. Remove from the heat and pour into a glass bowl or container. Allow to fully cool to room temperature without covering. Then when it is room temperature, cover and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.When it was done, I looked at my husband and said, "I am embarrassed. I cannot believe we have bought this all these years and it is so easy to make." We have never bought it again. And seriously doubt I ever will again. True story.
So next time you want cranberry sauce, why not give it a try?
** I sometimes substitute half a cup of orange juice for half of the water! This year I used tangerine in place of the orange...asked the #1 son to get me an orange for hot cider I was bringing to a friend's house, and wouldn't you know? Got a bag of tangerines instead---worked great in the cider--and tastes great in the cranberry sauce as well...Just goes to show, you never know what you can come up with unless you experiment!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!