Cranberry Sauce

I often find that cranberry sauce is a necessary, but neglected part of the holiday season. Rarely have I found a Thanksgiving table without some kind of cranberry sauce or spread, but often there are only a few spoonfuls missing (and the bowl is never licked clean). While I can understand this phenomenon of the forgotten cranberry (after all, there is turkey, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, breads, and desserts to distract), I'm afraid this doesn't excuse the crime. I am just as guilty as I may have ignored the poor cranberry sauce in favor of my grandmother's famous stuffing on plenty of occasions.

I feel troubled for the cranberry sauce. The vegetable tray already knows there will be plenty of leftovers to go around (in a battle of sweet potato casserole versus a celery stalk, there is a clear winner), but the cranberry sauce still holds hope within it's small berries. It has big dreams of finding a home arranged across a slice of turkey breast and those hopes so often fall flat.

Homemade cranberry sauce differs greatly from canned cranberry sauce. For one, homemade cranberry sauce doesn't make that awful slurping sound as it falls out of the can (once heard, it can never be unheard. Beware). Secondly, it doesn't hold its shape. When the ribbing from the can is evident in the final product, I'm not sure this is something you'll want to serve to your guests. Now I know not all store-bought sauces feature the rim-lined, gelatin appearance, but I will still argue that they won't be as delicious as a simple homemade spread.

And certainly never as delicious as this particular one.

If you are hosting a holiday this year, but scoff at my claims that homemade cranberry sauce is really worth the time and effort, let me make my case.

Cranberry sauce is surprisingly easy to make, requiring a handful of ingredients and roughly 10 minutes time (with only a few moments you actually need to pay attention). Subtle changes and adaptations will customize the sauce to precisely fit your tastes, neither too sweet or too tart. And, the kicker—you can make this cranberry sauce today and it will keep fresh until the special day.


Now you don't have any excuses.

What are your feelings on cranberry sauce? Do you also feel it is a necessary, but overlooked component of holiday meals?

This Cranberry Sauce is fresh, light, and perfectly suited to your holiday meal. Instead of cooking my cranberries down in water (which so many recipes call for), I cooked them in orange juice, which adds fantastic orange tones to the final product. I also spiced the sauce faintly with cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice which brings the sauce a well rounded, full-bodied flavor without tasting like a dessert. This recipe is adaptable, so feel free to adjust the amount of sugar for a sweeter or tarter cranberry sauce to suit your taste buds (you can start with less sugar and add more upon taste testing). If you have any leftovers, they are perfect as a dressing for leftover turkey sandwiches or a topping for your next bowl of ice cream.

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Cranberry Sauce

Yields 2 cups

4 cups (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed preferred)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange

In a large saucepan, stir together cranberries, orange juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn heat down and simmer until cranberries burst and sauce begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Sauce will continue to thicken when cooling down.

Stir in cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and the orange zest.

Serve warm. Sauce keeps up to 2 weeks stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.