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Thanksgiving: Cranberry sauce and beyond. November 22, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here, kicking off a week of Thanksgiving recipes with that classic, cranberry sauce. Our friend Ben and I grew up in households where our mamas lovingly made cranberry sauce for every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Their recipes were pretty similar—fresh cranberries, oranges, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and cloves, cooked up into a glittering but bitter dish served up in elegant cut-crystal dishes. Yes, they looked gorgeous. No, we didn’t like them. We’d take that canned cranberry jelly any day.

So, how do you make cranberry sauce without making it bitter? I saw a recipe in the Parade magazine last week that I thought would do the trick, from noted food author Dorie Greenspan. I plan to try it this Thanksgiving (with the changes I’ve noted in the recipe). You might want to as well.

          Dorie Greenspan’s Cranberry Sauce

2 bags (12 oz. each) fresh cranberries [Note from Silence: I have read emphatic assertions that frozen cranberries are actually better than fresh cranberries in cranberry sauce. I didn’t even realize there were frozen cranberries, but I might try them if I find them and see what I think.]

1 cup orange juice

1 cup apricot jam

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. powdered ginger [Note from Silence: No way! I’d mince either fresh or crystallized ginger and add it instead.]

1/4 pound dried apricots, finely diced

[Note from Silence: I’d at least think about adding 1/2 cup of dried cranberries—aka “craisins”—or dried tart cherries, too. And I know plenty of folks add a splash of Grand Marnier in their cranberry sauce. We’ve never done it, but can’t hurt, might help should you choose to try it.]

Stir all the ingredients together in a large, heavy pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the berries pop and the sauce starts to thicken—it will thicken much more as it cools—about 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature, cover, and chill.

Okay, sounds easy and good, right? But you might want to halve the amount—Dorie claims this recipe serves 20. (It certainly wouldn’t here! We love our cranberry sauce.)

 FYI, we posted lots of great Thanksgiving recipes and resources back in November 2008. To access them, use our search bar to look for the ones that speak to you: “Putting some heat in your Thanksgiving celebration,” “Curried pumpkin soup,” “Try this with turkey,” “Cookbooks to be thankful for, parts 1-3,” Silence’s Chili Surprise,” “Fabulous easy salad dressing,” “A good day for baking cookies,” “Pumpkin chili, glazed carrots, and sweet potato souffle,” “Time for pumpkin bread!”, “Picking pumpkins,” and “Silence’s Amazing Cranberry Stuffing.”

Meanwhile, keep an eye on this site for recipes and lore that will take you to Turkey Day and on towards Christmas! And please, we’d love it if you’d share some of your own favorite Thanksgiving recipes with us.

          ‘Til next time,



1. Michael - November 22, 2009

this sounds delicious!
check out my food blog and tell me what you think:


Good God, Michael! Your blog is just incredible. Everything on it looks amazing! The pea and mint soup, the almond fingers, the banana tart, the gnocchi… even vegetarian mincemeat!!! My head was whipping around, I was so impressed. Thanks so much for checking in and leaving us the link!!!

2. jodi (bloomingwriter) - November 22, 2009

That is an amazing cranberry sauce recipe. I’m going to try that, because it’s time to make a whack of sauce again. We go through it like crazy, because I have bags and bags of cranberries in the freezer.

Go for it, Jodi!!! And please tell me what you think. I’m determined to try it this season as well!

3. Daphne Gould - November 23, 2009

In my family the tradition is cranberry ice (I would say sorbet, but it has always been called cranberry ice). It is so easy to make:
Barely cover 12 oz cranberries with water and boil until soft. While you are doing this dissolve a packet of plain gelatin in 3/4c water. When soft press cranberries through sieve with a spoon. Put back on stove. Add 3/4c sugar and dissolve. Add juice from one lemon and dissolved gelatin. Freeze. Traditionally it is just frozen, but an ice cream maker does a better job. I make it every year. Usually I’m at Thanksgiving with a lot of people and make more than one kind of cranberry sauce.

I’ve never found cranberry sauce bitter. I guess my taste buds just don’t pick that part up. Right now I have three pounds of cranberries in my fridge. I think it is time to start cooking.

Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe, Daphne!!! What a refreshing treat after a major meal like Thanksgiving dinner, and what a smart family tradition. In my household we always had two cranberry sauces as well: my mother’s prized homemade sauce, and cranberry jelly from a can for those of us who loved it but found the real thing too bitter. (I confess, I still love that canned stuff and eat it with relish every Thanksgiving and Christmas.) I’m impressed that you can’t taste the bitterness in cranberries. Ever tried unsweetened cranberry juice? Anyway, wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday and a great meal!

4. Victoria - November 23, 2009

I love homemade cranberry sauce and just started making my own a few years ago. This year I’m going to try a recipe from Bon Appetit that includes mustard with the cranberries and sugar.

Wow! That sounds really interesting, Victoria! I can picture mustard and cranberry relish on a turkey sandwich, so I can see why those flavors could work well together, especially if the recipe uses brown sugar. Let me know what you think of it!

5. Jen - November 23, 2009

We almost always do cranberry sauce, but this year we’re going to my husband’s sister’s and she’s not letting us make anything! I don’t know whether to protest or sit back and enjoy it. Really don’t know what to do with myself since I’m usually poring over recipes and buying groceries this time of year. I’ll have to save this one. Happy Thanksgiving to all at Hawks Haven!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all as well, Jen!!! Yow, you’ll have to see what your SIL does in terms of cranberries and get back to us with the recipe if you liked it. You can always use this one at Christmas!

6. Daphne Gould - November 23, 2009

I have had 100% cranberry juice. In fact I had some a couple of weeks ago. I do add sugar to it. It is a bit too much for even me. But I don’t over sweeten it like I think most commercial cranberry juices do. I do have a sweet tooth, but somethings just aren’t supposed to be sugar sweet in my mind.

I agree, Daphne! I despise all syrupy-sweet or thick fruit juices. When I drink cranberry juice, I drink 100% cranberry-grape juice, and drink it at a ratio of 1/5 juice to 4/5 water. That’s about the right amount of flavor/sweetness for me!

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