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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Makes ALL the difference!

In, 1991, I was living in the Highlands of bonnie Scotland. I was cooking my first PROPER Thanksgiving dinner for friends we had met there, one of whom was an American.

Although I had already made a couple Thanksgiving dinners on a few previous years while we were living on the continent, it was only for my husband and me. My European husband was somewhat 'clueless' about what a REAL Thanksgiving dinner included, having only really experienced Thanksgiving once during the one year he was a visiting fellow at university in the States. And even though he has fond memories of that dinner (actually 'those' dinners as in one night he hit THREE dinners -- popular man!), he only remembers CANNED, gelatinous type cranberry sauce -- not MY homemade version -- AT ALL! Also, during those first five years I lived abroad, I was 'clueless' about where to buy what I needed to make a Thanksgiving dinner happen. We just usually had a chicken (turkeys were never available until Christmas) with stuffing (I DID make my own -- there were no boxed or bagged pre-mixes available which was a GOOD thing), normal potatoes (didn't yet know about the Moroccan market in Den Haag where sweet potatoes were available),a green vegetable (always plenty of cabbage or Brussels sprouts available and year-round to boot!),and a sauce I made using juniper berries (the berries that Dutch 'jenever' is made from). Now, this juniper berry sauce LOOKED like cranberry sauce, but didn't really taste like it. And, cranberry sauce was nowhere to be found in any shops I shopped at nor could I find fresh cranberries. (Later I found out that I COULD have bought canned cranberry sauce in a shop where 'ex-pats' frequented that stocked all kinds of 'essential' products from the States like Oreo cookies, Tide detergent, Skippy peanut butter, and , of course, Ocean Spray canned cranberry sauce and Libby's canned pumpkin). Cranberry sauce would have cost me the equivalent of $6.00/can, so good I didn't know as we couldn't afford such an extravagance -- sometimes, ignorance really is bliss! But, I also later found out that Vlieland -- one of the northern-most islands in The Netherlands is actually loaded with cranberry bogs and known for all kinds of fresh cranberry concoctions, including cranberry sauce and that they DO carry fresh cranberries, year-round! But, Vlieland was at last 3 hours and a ferry-ride away from where I lived, so I wouldn't have been able to make the journey anyway!. I did manage to make pumpkin pie, but using fresh pureed pumpkin I bought from the American Women's Club in The Hague. Ah, the good old days!!

Anyway, when we moved to Scotland, I found out I could get fresh turkeys in November from a local poultier. I also found fresh or frozen cranberries from a local shop that carried seasonal fruits and vegetables -- cranberries being one of them which were also available from end-November. So, I took the plunge and invited our minister and his wife for Thanksgiving dinner. He was Scottish and she was American. I made everything from scratch -- including the cranberry sauce/relish. I found the recipe from a very English 'Good Food' magazine which is published by the BBC. And, I have NEVER looked back. I will NEVER have cranberry sauce from a can ever again and neither will you once you make this and offer it on your Thanksgiving table. Thanksgiving dinner will not be the masterpiece it is supposed to be unless you offer this 'real-deal' cranberry sauce, no matter how wonderful and succulent your turkey comes.

Cranberry Sauce


600 grams ( about 1 1/2 lbs. fresh or frozen cranberries -- I prefer fresh)
1 cup sugar (240 g) (caster or granulated -- can be all white or 1/2 white, 1/2 light brown)
1/2 cup (120 ml) port or sherry or dry white wine -- whatever you have on hand
1/2 cup water(120 ml)
1 orange (need grated rind and juice of the whole orange, plus 2 thick slices from orange)
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick


Wash berries thoroughly, picking out and discarding any that are crushed or brown.
Place berries in medium saucepan. Add juice of whole orange, alcoholic fluid of choice, and JUST enough of the 1/2 cup of water to JUST slightly cover berries. IF you want a thicker 'sauce' and the finished product to be more like a cranberry relish, then do not add water to 'cover' but only to come 3/4 of way up to berries. Add sugar, grated orange rind, the two orange slices, cloves, and cinnamon stick. Bring entire contents of pan to the boil on a medium high heat and then simmer on low for about 20 more minutes or until berries start to pop. Remove from heat and allow to thicken. It is now ready to serve (will be warm) or chill. You can serve chilled (that's how I like it) or re-heat gently to serve warm (how DH likes it) next to the rest of your Thanksgiving platter.

Leftover cranberry sauce/relish is delicious in plain yogurt, over vanilla ice cream, with pancakes, and with pork dishes, too!

Can be kept for up to one week in fridge.

This homemade version is fat and additive-free, high in fiber, Vitamins C and A, and is rich in potassium, phosphorus, and choline and is low in sodium and kcalories.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!!


sophie said...

best cranberry sauce in the WORLD.

Arjan said...

that's a great recipee