Today is an absolutely perfect October day. The sky is crystal clear blue, the trees are kissed with orange, and there is a soft, cool breeze blowing. I don’t think there is anything better than a perfect Autumn day . . . unless it is a perfect Autumn day where your whole kitchen smells like the embodiment of fall. And there’s no better way to get your kitchen smelling festive than by making homemade cranberry sauce.
It’s hard not to love the humble cranberry. They grace our table each Thanksgiving and good-naturedly go along with our leftover turkey sandwiches the next day. They go to bat for us to fight the evil UTI infection, and they are just plain pretty. I mean . . . what’s not to love about a deep, ruby red? And their taste? Wow. Out of this world.
Once, while on vacation in the Outer Banks, NC, I tried an orange cranberry muffin from Duck Donuts. If you’ve ever been to OBX, you definitely know the place. That muffin was the stuff which lifetime love affairs are made of.
I have been working on recreating this muffin, at home, off and on for a while. Although I’ve come up with some tasty muffins, nothing has ever tasted quite as good as that muffin that I had down there, with the cool Atlantic breeze blowing my hair.
Perhaps that is the magic that cannot be re-created.
However . . . on my quest to recreate this muffin, one day I accidentally made homemade cranberry sauce. And the sauce was so delicious and simple . . . that I decided that, perhaps, the war was worth the spoils, after all. When cranberries start appearing at the grocery store around this time of year, I can’t resist making myself a batch of this ruby-red jewel of a condiment. It is fantastic on everything from meat (think pork glaze) to desserts (such as under a crisp topping and topped with ice cream). It is also great eaten plain.
And, of course, it is just perfect for Thanksgiving. Why not knock the family for a loop this year? Skip the kind with the can rings on it, and make this, fresh, for the day. Even if you decide to keep your canned Thanksgiving sauce (I must admit, I am rather fond of those canned rings, in spite of myself), at least try this one, too, for posterity.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe:
1 12 oz. bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
Directions. Well . . . it’s so embarrassingly simple, let’s just do it!
The bones of this cranberry sauce are so simple . . . cranberries, fruit juice, sugar, and water. You can switch this up if you like and add in other flavors– cinnamon, lemon, or orange zest. You can freeze bags of fresh cranberries when they go on sale (Yes– just pop the entire bag in the freezer. So easy) and make this any time of year. Oh my goodness. It is so good. And you can have it ANYTIME YOU WANT. YUM. Anytime I taste this sweet, yet tart sauce, I smack my lips. It’s great. You can also sub half brown sugar, if you want– but I prefer to use all white sugar. Cranberries are extremely tart, on their own, so you really will want to use the entire cup of sugar. If you like your sauce very sweet and not tart, you may need to add a touch more sugar or switch your water for OJ. The best way to find out what you like is to taste . . . so taste, as you make it, and see what you like best.
First, wash your cranberries and place them into a medium saucepan. Look at their gorgeous color and admire it. Sigh. 🙂 Moving on . . .
Add your sugar, orange juice, and water to your berries. Stirring occasionally, bring your cranberry sauce to a low boil. At this point, you may need to add a lid to your pan, as some of the berries will start to pop and splash. This is what a popped berry will look like. But your sauce isn’t done, yet. Keep on cookin’!
Go ahead and bring it to a higher boil. The mixture will start to foam. Your kitchen will start to smell like Christmas morning. Neighbors will come knocking and asking for a cup of sugar they really don’t need, just to find out what that divine smell is.
At this point, it’s really just how chunky you want your sauce. I like to cook mine down until it looks like this– kind of a thick jelly-like mixture, but still with some nice berry chunks. If you want it finer, cook a little longer. You can also strain your sauce through a colander if you don’t want any berry pieces in your sauce.
Isn’t it lovely. This ruby red beauty is going to be the belle of the ball at your next Thanksgiving feast. It’s great, too . . . because you can make it ahead and refrigerate! I’m all about things that don’t take up oven space on the big day. This sauce will thicken up a good bit, when it cools, also. Don’t be upset if it’s runny when it’s still hot. Those little cranberries will go to bat for you. Don’t worry 🙂
When it’s done, pour yourself a little bowl full– just lift it to your nose and smell. Inhale the holidays. Because that’s exactly what it smells like.
Taste it. Marvelous, isn’t it?
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you. 🙂
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