I love cranberry sauce. To be more specific: I love jellied, mass-produced, slurps-out-of-the-can-as-a-ridged-log cranberry sauce. But you know what that stuff is sweetened with? High-fructose corn syrup. Yummy, huh?
Making your own sauce isn’t hard. In fact, it’s really really easy. However, I find when people make their own sauce, they mess with it. There’s nothing wrong with that. The benefit of making your own food is that you can make it exactly however your heart desires. If you like whole berry cranberry sauce spiced with cinnamon, cloves and orange peel, by all means make that version.
I, however, like the no-frills plain-jane jellied version. Who’s with me?
To get the jellied goodness liked the canned stuff, you’re going to have to strain your cooked cranberries to remove the skins. I used a food mill, but a mesh strainer and a spoon will work just as well. You can also just mash the cranberries up while they’re cooking and leave the skins in. The sauce will still jell, it’ll just have more texture than the strained versions.
Jellied Cranberry Sauce
1 Bag Fresh/Frozen Cranberries (14 oz to 1 lb)
1/2 Cup Water
1 Lemon, Zest (optional)
1 Cup Sugar (or more to taste)
Add cranberries, water, and lemon zest to a pot. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, covered so a small amount of steam can escape. You’ll start to hear the berries popping as the skins split. Check on them after about 10 minutes. If they’re softened and mush easily, place them in your food mill or strainer over a bowl. (You can skip this part if you want a chunkier sauce.)
Mill until all the sauce has gone through, leaving you with only skins. It should look something like this once you’ve milled it as much as possible:
Don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the mill/strainer. Your cranberry mixture should be smooth, but it’s okay if it has some seeds in it. Mine did, but you can’t taste them and they just remind you that the sauce is homemade! A finer strainer will get the seeds, too.
Return the sauce to the stove (this is why I like using a food mill – it’ll fit right over a pot so you can easily put your milled food back on the stove) and add the sugar. I like 1 cup of sugar, but I think even that doesn’t make it quite as sweet as the canned stuff. I think 1 1/2 cups of sugar would achieve that, but I leave it at 1 cup.
Stir until the sugar is dissolved and let it simmer for 1-2 minutes.
Now you just need to chill the sauce in a lightly oiled mold of some sort. I used a cupcake tin, as I thought it’d be cute to have individual rounds of jellied sauce. If you have the neat silicone cupcake pan, use that; it’ll make it really easy to unmold the sauce.
And that’s it! Now chill it for a few hours. It’ll keep for 2-3 days, so you can make it in advance of a big meal (Thanksgiving, anyone?), but you can also make it during the day and it’ll be ready for dinner.
A special note of thanks to Inna for the food mill – it was such a sweet and thoughtful anniversary gift. I know I’ll be using it and appreciating it for years to come! Thank you!