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Nov 20, 2000 04:55 PM

a simple alternative to the canned cranberry sauce

  • j

Cranberry sauce is so easy to make its really a sin against your stomach to go for that jellied canned stuff. Sure, slicing that can shape can be fun, but its really an inferior product.

The basic recipe on the bag is pretty good. Bring one cup of water + one of sugar to boil, throw in berries and cook til they are all popped, 10-15 min. You can add a bit of orange juice (a spoonful of frozen concentrate works well) in at the end for a flavor boost.

Or, you can try the variation I learned from my midwestern Mom. Drain a small can of crushed pineapple, saving the juice. Add water to the juice to make up the 1 C of liquid, add 1 cup sugar and bring to boil. Throw in cranberries as above and cook til they pretty much all burst. Turn off the heat and stir in the crushed pineapple, together with finely chopped candied ginger to taste (I use 1 tbsp chopped per 12 oz pack of berries) or alternatively some dried ginger powder mixed with an equal amount of sugar. You can also add some OJ if you want. This is the recipe I make every year, and it is EASY.

Have a happy, happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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  1. my roommate last night spent hours trying to get two bags of cranberries, two jars of marmalade, and around three granny smith apples into her tiny food processor. i laughed inwardly at how much effort she was putting into something so simple. i tasted it today and she had added chopped walnuts later; i was eating it by the spoonful. you really can't go wrong with cranberry sauce, and it's so easy to go so right.

    speaking of cranberries, my mom makes an apple/pear/cranberry pie that sends shock waves radiating out over the western hemisphere. it's just the fruit with sugar and spices, a bit of flour and dotted with butter. it's a good way to get in your cranberry quota.

    4 Replies
    1. re: emily

      I was just thinking oooh I'm going to do the pinapple & ginger-in-the-cranberries thing until I read the apple-pear-cranberry pie idea. I may have to do both. Thanks.

      1. re: emily

        I also like the Richard Sax apple/cranberry crisp in his dessert book very much - very simple and delicious just fruit and the streusel topping, with the same advantages as betty's pumpkin pie - the only difference from just throwing the apples and cranberries together, I believe, is that some or all of the cranberries are very briefly cooked in syrup before being mixed with the apples. I have sometimes been disappointed with commercial cranberry apple pies - the cranberries may not be thoroughly cooked and sweetened so you bite into these sour red balls - I suspect the bakers are not compensating for the sourness of the berries by adding more sugar, either. Sax's approach avoids this problem.

        1. re: jen kalb

          And so does using leftover cranberry sauce, which would work as well in a crisp (which I am much more liable to make than pie anyway, since it's so easy and you save those piecrust calories...), as in the pie I described above.

          I agree, biting into a whole, unsweetened, and still crisp cranberry isn't too fun--similar experience to biting into an underripe persimmon. It's just too much.

          1. re: Caitlin

            Underripe persimmons was a popular childhood practical joke to play on kids who had just moved here from "the big city".

            The persimmons are plentiful this year, maybe to make up for the absence of pecans. I just bought a loaf of persimmon nut bread at a bake sale. Nice flavor but overcooked.

      2. My mom, who pretty much couldn't cook, always used the recipe on the bag and it is almost foolproof. She also added candied ginger, oj, and usually a little chopped orange rind. Like Jen said, easy and delicious. I remember dreading going to one particular set of cousins for Thanksgiving, because that aunt always seved the canned stuff and I hated its texture. She also put marshmallows, which I loathe, on top of the yams. My Aunt Bernadette, on the other hand, made what I still consider the gold standard for all other yam dishes--mashed with orange juice, bourbon, brown sugar and tons of butter, topped with chopped walnuts and baked. Fantastic. And one year, as an experiment, she produced a mushroom souffle that was so fabulous that henceforth everyone demanded she repeat it yearly. And so are traditions formed. Happy Thanksgiving!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Martha Gehan

          My mother makes a yam dish that sounds almost identical to Aunt Bernadette's recipe, although she tops it with a sort of chopped pecan streusel instead of walnuts. Fantastic, indeed - it comes out of the oven incredibly light yet rich, almost more of a savory-sweet pudding.

        2. Other simple additions that enhance the "back of the bag" recipe: cook it with a few wide strips of orange zest (a little lemon is nice, too), a cinnamon stick, a few whole cloves, and fish it all out before serving. I often make it using around 1/4 cup raspberry vinegar in place of an equal amount of water, which gives good flavor and keeps it from cloying, and also add some fresh OJ--in fact, I do all of the above, and it's great. I usually cut back on the sugar by a third, as well.

          Two good and easy uses for leftover cranberry sauce:

          Cranberry and apple and/or pear pie (related to Emily's mom's!): for a nine-inch pie, mix 1 1/2 cups or so cranberry sauce with around 5 cups sliced apples and/or pears, 1/4-3/4 cups sugar depending on your taste and the sweetness of your sauce and fruit, and a tablespoon of cornstarch. Great with a cinnamon-streusel topping. Bake at 350 degrees for around an hour--put a foil-lined baking sheet under your pie pan, because it WILL bubble over. Serve warm and a la mode, of course.

          Pan sauce for meat that takes well to tart-sweet fruit sauces (like pork or duck): sear meat and finish on stove or in oven, then let rest. Add a little butter to pan, saute minced shallots and fresh herb of choice (e.g., rosemary or thyme) for a few minutes. Season with S & P. Deglaze pan with a lttle dry red wine, red wine vinegar, or commercial balsamic vinegar. Whisk in cranberry sauce and stock in roughly equal amounts, depending on how thick you like your sauce; whisk until cranberry sauce melts, and cook down to desired consistency. Check seasoning. For a different twist, whisk in a little bit of Dijon mustard with the sauce and broth (but not much).

          Incidentally, I've never known anyone who ventured to try making their own cranberry sauce to go back to the canned stuff, even if they grew up with and thought they loved it...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Caitlin
            Connie Crothers

            Terrific pan sauce recipe.

          2. Thanks Jen, I made your mom's relish last night. It is delicious.

            1. c
              Connie Crothers

              Here is a simple, foolproof and delicious recipe:

              One pound of cranberries, one bottle of maple syrup, preferably medium amber (no added water); cook 15 minutes; chill to jell about six hours.

              Here's one for cranberry salsa:

              Saute one medium onion and a couple cloves of garlic in dark golden unrefined corn oil; add 1/2 tsp. ground mustard seed. Add 1 lb. cranberries, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, one dried chipotle chili, two jalapenos that have been charred, skinned, seeded and chopped fine. Simmer 15 minutes, then let it sit to blend flavors. Remove the chipotle chili or puree it and add it back to the sauce to boost the heat.