I am going to admit to one of my strange quirks…. one of many….of course.
I love to watch the cranberries split! I love it. This is one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving. Most people would say they love eating roasted turkey or pumpkin pie. They may say that they love the football games or eating stuffing.
For me, right behind hanging out with my family would be watching the cranberries split. What? You may be thinking “what does she mean?” Crazy food blogger…..
Well, let me tell you about it.
It is a multi-sensory activity using your sense of smell, taste, visual and auditory all in one easy cooking activity. What more could a food obsessed individual need for the holidays
I love looking over the edge of the pot and seeing the different reds and purples and pinks of the fresh cranberries mingled with the dark green rosemary and bright yellow of lemon. Shiny with water and sugar the berries sparkle in the light. They dance when the water starts to boil. It is like a cranberry disco on your stove.
Turn up the heat and wait a couple of minutes and the fun really starts. The berries start to dance around in the pot and the earthy smell of rosemary and bright smell of lemon reach your nose. Next comes the popping. Cranberries will expand and split when cooked and release that quintessential of holiday smells, fresh cranberry sauce.
I just love it.
Simmer the berries a bit longer and that is all you have to do. The sauce is best cooled overnight and it will thicken naturally. No need to add gelatin. Gone forever from your table is the metallic tasting can of cranberry flavored gelatin that slides out in one big ribbed lump. Canned cranberry gelatin is not nearly as fun as dancing cranberries with fresh herbs and citrus. You can get very creative with cranberry sauce as you can see from my extensive list of variations at the bottom of this post. Have fun with this traditional side dish and add dried fruit, nuts, spices and herbs.
Master Cranberry Sauce
200 gram sugar (1 cup)
1 cup water
4 cups fresh cranberries
After you cook the cranberries you may add any savory or sweet additions you would like to flavor your sauce. At the bottom of this post I will list some of my favorite variations. Makes 2 1/2 cups cranberry sauce.
1 Wash your lovely cranberries. In a saucepan bring water to a boil and add sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries, return to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries burst. Lovely!
2 At this point you can add all number of optional ingredients. The cranberry sauce in the picture has fresh rosemary and lemon wedges. You can add a cup of dried cranberries or dried cherries.
3 Remove from heat. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour and chill in the refrigerator overnight. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.
Cranberry Sauce Variations
Southwestern Cranberry Sauce
1/2 tsp chipotle powder and topped with minced fresh cilantro and lime juice before serving
Orange and Almond Cranberry Sauce
Substitute fresh orange juice with water and add sliced almonds
Apple and Ginger Cranberry Sauce
1 tbs candied ginger diced fine with 1 cup diced honey crisp apple
Rosemary and Port Wine Cranberry Sauce
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary, 1/4 cup port wine (reduce water to 3/4 cup) and 1 tsp orange zest
Maple Walnut Cranberry Sauce
4 tbs maple syrup, substitute brown sugar for white sugar and 1/3 cup diced toasted walnuts
Apricot and cardamom Cranberry Sauce
1/3 cup diced dried apricots and 1 tsp cardamom
Lemon Thyme Cranberry Sauce
1 tbs fresh thyme and 1 tbs lemon zest
Let me know if you have any creative variations for cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving menu.