Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Fresh cranberries or canned? This recipe resolves the debate.
Homemade Canned Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Canned Cranberry Sauce

Canned cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving tradition in many households.

Photo by: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo by Mick Telkamp

Canned cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving tradition in many households.

It’s an annual debate. I grew up with a tradition of canned cranberry sauce at the Thanksgiving table. Extracted from its confines with a mighty schoooorp, the jellied sauce perfectly retained the shape of the can. Cut into slices and arranged on a plate, it was the easiest recipe of the day and one of my favorite sides on the holiday table. Then I had to go and get clever.

After years of Thanksgivings at my parents’ house, travels arrangements and work schedules landed the annual feast at my house. Happy to host and even happier to cook, the menu included mostly old favorites, but with a few modifications. I skipped the canned jellied cranberry sauce for a lovely fresh recipe I felt pretty good about. 

Reviews were mixed.

Everyone agreed the fancy pants cranberry sauce was downright tasty, but the table was split on its right to appear on our Thanksgiving table. Our traditional canned cranberry sauce was conspicuous in its absence. Still, fresh produce is always going to be my preference and the store-bought stuff is loaded with high fructose corn syrup. What’s a suburban homesteader to do?

This homemade jellied cranberry sauce satisfies both the nostalgic and the fresh-food lovers at our Thanksgiving table. The ingredients are fresh, the flavor is spectacular and the shape is decidedly can-like. Although cranberries have plenty of natural pectin, we’ve added a couple of apples to give the sauce a little help to gel, although the consistency will vary a little depending on the produce. Homemade tends to be softer than store-bought. 

This tart Thanksgiving treat can be canned for long-term shelf storage or refrigerated overnight before serving. If storing at room temperature, refrigerate for a few hours before opening for a firmer consistency. This easy jellied cranberry sauce can also be poured into a jello mold for a more elegant presentation, but then you won’t get that schoooorp. It seems the debate continues. 

Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Yield: 3 pints

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • Juice of 2 large oranges (about 1/2 cup)
  • Zest of one orange
  • 2 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar

Wash cranberries and pick out any debris or stems.

Combine water and orange juice in a heavy pot and bring to boil over medium-high heat.

Add zest, apple slices and cranberries to pot.

Return to boil for 10 minutes until most of the berries have “popped.”

Transfer to blender and blend until smooth.

Return to saucepan over medium-high heat and return to boil.

Add sugar and return to boil for 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and ladle into sterile wide-mouth pint jars, leaving 1/2” head space.

Cap with lids and bands and process in water bath for 15 minutes to seal.

Stored in a cool, dry location, jellied cranberry sauce will last up to a year without significant loss of flavor.

To use right away, pour sauce into jars or molds and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

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