First off, let me just say that there is Nothing Wrong with Canned Cranberry Sauce.
Tons of people, especially those who grew up with it, prefer it over homemade, and I respect that. I read an entertaining tongue-in-cheek article in New York Magazine’s “The Cut” recently that was preaching the joys of canned, jellied cranberry sauce and saying that only fools waste time on cranberry sauce. I found it pretty funny and jokes aside, I 100% appreciate that there is a certain charm about tipping that cylinder of jelly out of the tin. It holds its shape in a way that is so perfect and classic.
As someone who grew up with homemade fresh cranberry sauce (I’ve never made frozen either), I guess I’m biased, but I think it’s the clear winner. Partly because it’s delicious and tangy and it’s one of the easiest things in the world to make, but also because I love the satisfying popping process that happens as the cranberries cook. Oh, and as far as a recipe is concerned, the best fresh cranberry sauce recipe is written right on the back of the bag. Seriously.
In this video I’ve taken the recipe straight from the instructions on the bag and added orange juice and zest, but you can definitely stick with the standard. Over the years I’ve cranked out plenty of different spins on the traditional cranberry sauce. I’ve made chutneys, relishes, and compotes, I’ve added spices, onions, and other things, but in the end, the straight-up fresh cranberry sauce, (or cranberry sauce with orange juice) is all I really want. I think adding too many other ingredients just kinda messes with it. It’s the perfectly sweet, sour tang that wakes up everything else on your turkey dinner table.
Here’s the video:
Making Easy, Homemade Cranberry Sauce: The Process.
Put sugar, cranberry sauce, and liquid (water or orange juice) into a small pot
Cook over medium heat until the cranberries have all popped - this will take 7-10 minutes
Allow to cool, chill, and enjoy.
The sauce will look really very runny and liquidy when it’s hot. The pectin in the cranberries only really sets up after some time in the fridge. So, make your cranberry sauce in advance, pour it into whatever dishes you’re going to serve it in, and stick it in the fridge for up to a week or more.
In the video I mention another method for fresh cranberry sauce that I’ve seen around the internet (but never made) which is a raw cranberry sauce. In this method, as shown in this article from The Spruce Eats, you put sugar, cranberries, and a whole orange (peel and all) into a food processor and pulse it until it reaches a coarse, chopped texture. Like I said, I’ve never made it, because to do so would mean I wouldn’t get to do the popping part, which is my favourite part. But If you’ve done the fresh, raw cranberry sauce method and you think I’m totally missing out, please do let me know and I’ll give it a try!
Crans not Cans
So if you’re ok with leaving the jellied stuff on the shelf this year, and you aren’t into the idea of the raw stuff, and you want fresh cranberry sauce with orange Juice for your turkey dinner, this is the easiest way to make it. In my opinion, It’s one of the most important things on the Christmas dinner table.