How to Make a Delicious Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Let’s talk about how to make delicious homemade cranberry sauce.  Simple and tart; it’s a must on my holiday table.

(This post may contain affiliate links.  If you click on a link and purchase a product or service, I will receive a commission from the sale.  You will not incur any extra cost.)  

My mother and my grandmother knew how to put a captivating holiday spread on the table.  They did not cut any corners.  Every dish was homemade, and they set the bar high.  Their menus were always filled with multiple dishes, and they could fit more people around the dining room table than seemed humanly possible.

In addition to the main holiday entree and an endless variety of side dishes, my Mother and Grandmother put a wide assortment of condiments on their tables.  I remember bread and butter pickles, three bean salad, sliced pickled beets, gherkin pickles, applesauce and of course cranberry sauce.  As a child I love pickles, so there were no complaints from me, but looking back now the various pickle choices during fancy holiday meals seems curious.   Cranberry sauce and applesauce, however, are spot on.  No fall or winter holiday goes by without them on my table; always homemade, too.

I prefer a simple cranberry sauce.   Nothing extra.  Nothing fancy needed.  Cranberry chutney has become quite popular in recent years, however.  If a simple sauce simple does not excite you, I recommend you try a recipe like this one or a pre-made apple cranberry chutney like this.

My recipe for cranberry sauce is simple and easy and quite honestly can be found on the package of fresh cranberries. Here’s a link to the recipe! (no affiliation)

Before making my sauce, I place my whole fresh cranberries in a colander and give them a rinse.  Good cranberries should be bright red, firm, and bounce when they hit a hard surface.  I shift through my cranberries and pick out any that are shriveled or soft.  My latest bag of cranberries was a bit disappointing.  In the picture below you can see a number of spoiled berries on the left, compared to good quality berries on the right.  It’s worth taking the time to pick through your berries and remove any less than perfect cranberries or remaining stems.

The ingredient list for fresh cranberry sauce is simple: cranberries, water, sugar.  Put the ingredients into your saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.  Once the mixture comes to a boil turn your burner down to medium or medium-low and keep it at a gentle simmer.  Stir occasionally and wait for the cranberry to cook.  You will hear them pop open!  I like to cook my sauce until practically every cranberry has popped.  Remove from the heat, cool the sauce, and enjoy!

Cranberry sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  It’s a great make-ahead dish for the holidays.

Cranberry sauce can be frozen and kept in the freezer for about 2  months.  To freeze, let your cranberry sauce cool completely and place it into reusable freezer containers such as these.  Want to really get a head start on your holidays?  Now’s the time to make your cranberry sauce and set some in the freezer ready for your festive meals over these next 2 months.

To thaw, I take my container of cranberry sauce out of the freezer the day before I need it and place it in my refrigerator.  If it is still a bit icy the next day, I give it a sir, spoon it into my serving bowl, and leave it out at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  That usually does the trick.

Now you have no excuse not to have fresh cranberry sauce on your holiday table!  Enjoy!

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