It has been an unchallengeable American doctrine that cranberry sauce, a pink goo with overtones of sugared tomatoes, is a delectable necessity of the Thanksgiving board and that turkey is uneatable without it. – Alistair Cooke
My least favorite food at Thanksgiving dinner is cranberry sauce. This sweet gelatinous goop is not appetizing to me. My dislike of this sauce is because it comes from a can and is too sweet. My friends and family swear by it and without cranberry sauce it isn’t Thanksgiving dinner. But does it have to come from a can? Is this it? Is this the standard in which cranberry sauce is judged?
What is cranberry sauce? It isn’t just cranberries smart_ss!
Lets set the record straight. There was no cranberry sauce at the first Thanksgiving dinner. Yes the Pilgrims and Indians had cranberries but sugar was a rare luxury. Try eating a cranberry and find out why you need sugar. I triple dog dare you!
Cranberry sauce became popular when General Ulysses S. Grant ordered it served to the troops during the siege of Petersburg in 1864. In 1912, Ocean Spray Cape Cod Cranberry Company started caning cranberry sauce commercially. The rest is history.
Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle…. What! This isn’t Cranberry sauce!
Okay, you already know I dislike cranberry sauce but I tested many for this post for journalistic integrity. Sounds good right? I tried the store bought cranberry sauces and also made a few from scratch. I was surprised by my findings.
Oh the humanity! Try to avoid the canned cranberry sauces. Compared to any of the homemade sauces they are visually unappealing to outright disgustingly sweet gelatin. The amount of effort involved to make cranberry sauce is minimal. It is worth the effort. I actually liked how it tasted.
I made a few of cranberry sauce recipes and there were two that stood out. The first recipe was submitted by Joanne from Willowbrook. Joanne’s cranberry sauce recipe is a citric wonder. Its main ingredients are grapefruit, honey and crystallized ginger. It is very good. I highly recommend it.
The second is my favorite recipe and comes from the zany Alton Brown of Food Network fame. Alton’s tart cranberry dipping sauce is out of this world. Its main ingredients are orange juice, ginger ale, real maple syrup and light brown sugar. A little of this sauce goes a long way. It’s can be overpowering.
Below you will find both recipes. Serve both this Thanksgiving and judge for yourself. PLEASE DO NOT BUY THE CANNED STUFF.
Cranberry Sauce by Joanne of Willowbrook
Makes about 3 cups
1 bag of cranberries (12 oz.)
1 Tbsp. grated grapefruit zest
1 cup fresh grapefruit juice
¾ cup honey
1/3 cup minced/crushed crystallized (candied) ginger
Over medium high heat combine the cranberries, grapefruit zest, juice and honey in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir constantly. Boil for about 5 minutes until the cranberries pop. Remove from the heat an cool to room temperature. Stirring will speed the cooling. Once at room temperature stir in the crystallized ginger. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until serving.
Tart Cranberry Dipping Sauce by Alton Brown
Makes about 12 serving
1 lb. frozen cranberries
2 cups orange juice
3 cups ginger ale
2 Tbsp. real maple syrup
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 orange, zested
Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan (stainless steel) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 45 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half.
Carefully puree in a blender until smooth. Serve in small bowls or ramekins.
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