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Nov 18, 2008 07:38 AM

Rant: What is WRONG with the canned cranberry people?

Why, oh why, do so many people prefer...nay, DEMAND...canned cranberry sauce? The kind with lines in it from the can, quivering in the little dish. When there is homemade whole berry sauce sitting next to it? I don't mean some frou-frou cranberry sauce with ginger and persimmons and god knows what else...but simple , fresh cranberry sauce made recently from fresh cranberries.

Not only a large percentage of my extended family, but my own husband, known to have decent taste in food, fall in this category.

My mother and I were discussing this Sunday. She has decided to cave in, slap the gelatinous crap on the table, and forget casting the cranberry-colored pearls before swine.

I suggested these people need to be reeducated. Perhaps a make-shift camp in the spare bedroom where full cans from Ocean Spray can be dropped from counter height on their bare feet until they see the light.

I'm tongue in cheek of course. Help me understand what you see in the canned stuff !

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  1. Childhood. And the smooth texture. I make cranberry sauce from fresh cranberries (and my Dh insists on mucking it up with apples and pineapple, etc.) and I buy a couple of cans of Ocean Spray for myself post Thanksgiving (and throughout the year with roasted chicken).

    I think you are the one who needs to be reeducated on what's important in life. Cranberry sauce preference doesn't even make the short list.

    1. spread it on bread/toast for your turkey sandwich

      mix it with cottage cheese

      I ate both of those yesterday

      2 Replies
      1. re: laliz

        Second on the sandwich spread. Good times.

        1. re: Pylon

          Pylon, in case you didn't see my post further down-thread, i recently discovered a fabulous sandwich spread substitute if you don't have the canned stuff on hand [or if, like me, you won't eat it anymore because of the HFCS]...Trader Joe's Cranberry Apple Butter tastes almost exactly the same, and the smooth, thick consistency is perfect for spreading.

      2. Probably no help, but as a child I didn't like to eat whole cranberries cooked by my Mom (an excellent cook). I loved the taste, but not the texture. I can eat home cooked cranberries now, but nobody makes them, and if i am buying in a can, it will be the smooth sauce. It is also easier to get the taste to a grandchildren, if it is smooth. LOL
        I was the same way about Oyster stew. Give me the soup, without the oysters, but loved fried oysters. Go figure.

        1 Reply
        1. re: soapstix1

          My brother makes a wonderful Oyster Stew Florentine with spinach and prosuitto and our daughter loves it without the oysters which is fine with the rest of us as there are more oysters for us.

        2. Some people like jam, others like jelly.

          1 Reply
          1. re: paulj

            Nostalgia. My mother always made the real thing, but also always had the canned variety on the table.

            People still eat Jello, and it ain't all that.

            I wonder, though, have they reduced the amount of product in the can? I'd be more inclined to get in a tizzy about that.

          2. Why do people eat roast chicken instead of fried? Or sliced breast meat instead of a drumstick. Or plain bread when there's toast.

            That something is made with an ingredient in common doesn't mean its the same thing. Texture and flavor, it turns out, matter. At my house we have a fresh cranberry relish and jellied cranberry sauce. They're different things. They both taste good.

            17 Replies
            1. re: ccbweb

              So... would you theorize that if one made fresh cranberry sauce, purreed and strained it, and let it jell...that would be fine with the canned crowd? They wouldn't shun it because it's not cylindrically shaped and marked with little lines from the can?

              1. re: danna

                I've never had anyone make jellied cranberry sauce at home, so I'd have to try it before I could say. But it's a nominal price to pay for something that gives people warm memories or they simply enjoy. This is one time the whole "you can make it for less" argument doesn't fly.

                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                  I've made it at home, and, frankly, it's just very different from what you get in the can. I like both my cranberry relish, and the jelly out of the can.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    i 100% agree with mmruth. SOMETIMES, you just gotta have the cranberry jelly from ocean spray. i bought 4 cans just yesterday!

                    i like to make the fresh cran relish with orange and jalapeno. sweet, hot, tart, and -- depending on the spices (like cumin) -- savory, too.

                    1. re: alkapal

                      Agree - it's just one of those Thanksgiving traditions when the entire family gets together. How many articles have we all read that, no matter what, Thanksgiving is the one meal a year that you just don't change? We can change Christmas, Easter, Independence Day meals - but you do NOT screw around with Thanksgiving dinner!

                      It'll probably be just me and my mother this year (sister and BIL are going elsewhere) so we'll just stick with the cranberry-orange relish as that's what we both prefer. I'd like to "muck it up" with some freshly grated ginger, but not sure if she'll go for that. :-)

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        The thing that bothers me is when our food traditions center around processed canned goods made in far off factories rather than in our own kitchens. It just seems wrong to me, in the same way that people find comfort from the fake food at McDonald's because they grew up having birthday parties there, playing on the slides in the playgrounds.

                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          So this is a call to eat entirely locally?

                          Because I really don't see a lot of difference between sweetened fruit that happens to be in a can and combining a bag of cranberries from a far off bog with some sugar from another far off place.

                          Not all "processed" food is the same and we often paint with far too broad a brush in these kinds of things.

                          1. re: ccbweb

                            Not a call to eat entirely locally per se, but certainly a call to consider whether our nostalgic feelings for something artificial are misguiding our loyalties.

                            Mr Taster

                              1. re: alkapal

                                >>OS cran is not artificial.

                                Of course it isn't. And it is soooooooooo delicious, especially (as learned here in this thread) mixed with mayo.

                                And who cares what's made locally, I sure don't.

                                And after all, we are all entitled to eat just what we want, when we want, aren't we? Of course we are. Bless Ocean Spray's little heart, thank you for your canned cranberry sauce.

                            1. re: ccbweb

                              "far off bog" - HA! That cracked me up!

                              I have to say, I prefer homemade, but there is still a little place in my heart that loves the canned stuff. You can't get much more American than canned cranberry goop that jiggles. It's just funny!

                            2. re: Mr Taster

                              "far off factories" - meaning Michigan if you live in MA? Or the Pacific Northwest? Cranberries are harvested mostly in New England, northern Midwest states, a few Northwestern states and Canadian provinces.


                              And I don't think most people's "food traditions" for Thanksgiving center around processed foods - unless you're counting the turkey processing, the potato processing, the carrot processing, the brussel sprout processing.......having one canned item that (unfortunately) might have HFCS in it? If that's what was tradition in your family growing up? I don't see anything wrong with it.

                              Cranberry sauce isn't "artificial" - it's cranberries, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water. Yeah - it sucks that it now has HFCS in it. But having one "processed" item on a table groaning with freshly made Thanksgiving-related foods? If people want it when I'm hosting Thanksgiving, I'll put it on the table. But as I said - we had *freshly made* orange-cranberry relish on our table this year.

                          2. re: alkapal

                            I was brought up on the imprinted gel from the almighty can, but like a lot of other canned stuff I have shunned it ever since, having discovered I delight in the glory of fresh produce. So when invited elsewhere for Thanksgiving I always volunteer to bring, among other things, my (very simple) homemade cranberry sauce. So far everyone has seemed to appreciate it, and I figure if someone has a real penchant for the canned stuff they will bring it along.
                            I have added orange zest and walnuts on occaision, reserving an unaltered bowl for the purists, but I really like the sounds of the jalapeno addition. Can I add some (oh, dear, I must confess,) from a jar in my fridge? The cumin sounds really strange to me but I'd be willing to try... I do like cumin. Would you be willing to share recipes?

                            1. re: LINDUTCH

                              lindutch, make your regular stuff, then set aside some to experiment with the cumin -- i recall using just a pinch.

                              and yes, you could use the jalapeno from the fridge, but i like the little crunch from the fresh minced, but added near the end of cooking. i learned from mario that the red pepper added at the beginning "heats the whole dish", while added late, gives little seemingly random bursts of heat in this or that particular spoonfull.

                              i was surprised when i cooked the jalapeno from the beginning of the dish; it took more jalapeno than i thought it would to give the dish "heat". test your fresh jalapeno by taking a bite. there is so much heat variation these days. for some assurance of heat, i'd use a serrano pepper, too.

                              another advantage of fresh is that the fresh doesn't add any "vinegary" flavor (if the fridge ones are stored in vinegar.) i believe canned ones don't necessarily have vinegar added.

                      2. re: danna

                        I can't speak for the "canned crowd" generally....I suppose if the end result was the same that it might fly. Clearly, some people are after tradition or some nostalgia in some cases, too.

                        1. re: danna

                          No, absolutely not,

                          One year I got on my high horse and decided to reject Ocean Spray because it had HFCS. I bought organic, I bought expensive. They may have had superior ingredients but they didn't have the same taste. I went back to Ocean Spray.

                          Year after year my mother would get creative with cranberry sauce. Year after year she was the only one who ate the homemade stuff while everyone else ate Ocean Spray.

                          The lines are a feature ... it shows you where to slice.

                          Make yourself some from cranberries and make everyone else happy by serving Ocean Spray. I will tell you after decades, I've never had a fresh cranberry sauce that made me as happy as the stuff with the lines on the side of it.

                          You will not make anyone see they light. You will just annoy them. They will talk about you. Serve the Ocean Spray.

                          It is like catsup. That fancy house made stuff never tastes as good as Heinz.

                          1. re: rworange

                            Good answer, rworange. Imagine Hunt's trying to get in the ketchup business? Didn't they even call it 'catsup', for pity sake?????