Last year, I made homemade cranberry sauce for the first time. It is so easy to make and so much better than the canned stuff (and we love the canned stuff), that I swore I would make it every year.
I was able to purchase a 36 ounce bag of cranberries from my local food warehouse for $4.97. This contains 12½ cups of cranberries or enough for 2½ batches of cranberry sauce. I love the spiced version, but my kids love the non-spiced so I made some of both. It only took a little over an hour and making this a few weeks before Thanksgiving allows the sauce to completely gel and mellow in flavor.
I preserve my sauce so that I can store it in the pantry, but you can easily make a batch and put the jars into the refrigerator until ready to serve.
I ended up making 3 batches – some for our Thanksgiving dinner and some to share. Try making some for your family – you will not be disappointed!
Here is the complete text from last year’s post:
My kids love cranberry sauce. Jellied cranberry sauce. Opened and nudged out of the can into a bowl and sliced. My kids will even go into the pantry, find the cans, and put them into the refrigerator so that they will be good and cold and ready to eat. Seriously, we will go through several cans at Thanksgiving dinner alone.
It is the one Thanksgiving dish that I have never made from scratch. Every year I hear about people making homemade cranberry sauce, but I have never taken the plunge. Until this year. The one thing that I knew I would have to do, though, was to make the jellied version. My kids would never tolerate whole berry cranberry sauce. The November 2011 issue of Food Network magazine included a poll on cranberry sauce – 54% prefer canned and jellied cranberry sauce and 46% prefer the whole-berry kind.
So, I researched various cranberry sauce recipes and finally went back to my Ball Blue Book and started experimenting. The first batch that I made followed the Ball Blue Book recipe that said it would yield “about 2 pints”. I used a food mill, but my yield was only one full pint and part of a half pint. For my second batch, I used a food processor and adjusted the measurements slightly to ensure that the result was 2 full pints.
After a few more batches, the following recipe is the result. I processed my cranberry sauce in canning jars so that I can store them in my pantry, but there is a recipe on the bag of the cranberries which you can make and store in the refrigerator. Add the spice bag component to it, and you will have fabulous, homemade cranberry sauce for your holiday table!
Since part of the fun of cranberry sauce is that it slurps out of a straight-sided can in a perfect cylindrical shape, I went and found some straight-sided, pint-sized canning jars. Just to make homemade cranberry sauce.
By now, you know, I could have bought a case of the canned stuff.
Homemade Jellied Spiced Cranberry Sauce ingredients. Please note that my whole cloves are in a jar marked Dry Mustard.
Wash and drain the cranberries. I placed the washed berries onto towel-lined sheet pans to allow them to dry. It also made it easier to pick through them to discard the overripe and under ripe berries. Just run your hands, gently, across the tops of the berries, and you will be able to feel the ones that should be tossed.
The spicy part of the recipe involves cutting a piece of rind off an orange, studding it with 6 whole cloves, and tying it along with one cinnamon stick into a piece of cheesecloth tied with twine.
Here is the finished spice bag ready to toss into the pot!
Note on the spices: The spices made the Cranberry Sauce over-the-top good, but if you want yours plain, they are optional. I also made a batch of plain, homemade cranberry sauce and it is very good, too.
Place the cranberries and water into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium to medium high heat. Boil until the skins are popped. This only took about 5 to 10 minutes on my gas stovetop. It was also a fun step because the berries actually make popping noises as they burst.
Note on the pictures: I was cooking on a very dark, gray, and overcast day so I struggled with getting enough natural light for good pictures. Getting good pictures of the color red is a challenge, too, for my truly amateur skill level. The pictures actually turned out a little better than I expected, but this one was the best of the lot for this step and doesn’t really represent how truly lovely the burst berries looked in the pot.
After the berries have boiled long enough to burst through their skins, you will need to purée them. I used a food mill on my first batch and ended up with a batch that only produced a little over a pint. For all the rest of the batches, I used my food processor. I was concerned that there would still be bits of skin, but the result was a perfectly smooth mixture. This is the way to go. I believe that a blender would produce similar results just be careful when blending hot mixtures – you must do so in small batches!
Return the puréed mixture to the saucepan and add the sugar and spice bag. Over medium to medium high heat, return the mixture to a boil and cook until almost to the gelling point (220°F). This step took about 15 to 20 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Remove and discard the spice bag. Place the mixture into pint sized canning jars and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.
Note: I used a candy thermometer on my first batch and also used the gelling test with a spoon. After a few batches, I could tell by sight when they were ready. The mixtures turns a beautiful dark, burgundy red and becomes glossy and thick.
Homemade Jellied Spiced Cranberry Sauce – ready to eat.
The result, after making these batches of jellied cranberry sauce. Tart, yummy, goodness. It’s akin to the stuff in the can, but purer and better tasting. Adding the spice bag of orange, clove, and cinnamon makes it a little spicy, but the “plain” batch that I made was really good, too. Dear sweet hubby and my nephew, Little Patrick, both declared it “very good.”
I cannot believe that it has taken me over 50 years to make and eat homemade cranberry sauce. I’ll tell you right now, I’ll never go back. Hope the kids like it . . . Because I’m not buying the canned stuff ever again.
Homemade Jellied Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Makes 2 pints
5 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups water
2½ cups sugar
1 large piece of orange rind
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
Wash and drain cranberries. Pick through them and discard any that are under ripe or overripe. Combine the cranberries and water in a large sauce pan. Boil over medium to medium high heat until the skins burst on the cranberries. This will take about 5 to 10 minutes, and you will hear the berries popping.
Pour the mixture into the bowl of a large food processor and purée until smooth.
Return the cranberry mixture to the sauce pan. Place the orange rind studded with the whole cloves and the cinnamon stick into a small piece of cheesecloth tied with twine. Add the spice bag and the sugar to the sauce pan and return to a boil over medium to medium high heat. Boil almost to the gelling point (220°F at sea level). This will take about 15 to 20 minutes. You can use either a candy thermometer or gelling tests using a spoon or plate. Refer to Jam and Jelly Basics here.
The mixture will be thick, dark burgundy red, and glossy. Turn off the heat, remove the spice bag, and ladle the sauce into hot jars, leaving ¼” head space. Adjust the 2-piece caps, and process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.
Notes: The spice bag is optional. The cranberry sauce tastes great plain, too. If you use straight-sided jars, you will be able to serve as a mold just like the canned version. If you do not wish to use the canning method to preserve the cranberry sauce, you may store it in the refrigerator after cooling to room temperature.