Warning: this is a really long blog post about a really simple recipe. You’ve been warned.
Round about July 17 (ballpark) I start getting really, really sick of summer. I get sick of butter-thick humidity, toe sweat, weird flesh-eating bug bites and not watching Christmas movies.
I start wanting to whip out my full-sized leg lamp and hibernate. All the vitamin D in the world couldn’t fix my sick-o-summer sadness.
Trudging depressed and despondent through the freezer section at Whole Foods last week, as I channeled my irritation by scoffing at the xanthan-gum-filled “all-natural” ice cream section, I spotted something uplifting:
Homemade Jellied Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries. Frozen cranberries. In a bio-degradable bag. This kind.
Since cranberries are as tart as I feel these days, and because cranberries are the #1 reason I love the plant world and the #2 reason I love the holiday season, I didn’t hesitate. The only thing easier than slopping cranberry sauce out of a can – blech – is making true cranberry sauce on the stovetop.
Why do I call it Summer Cranberry Sauce? Because it’s the summer. Serve it cold if you need to make it more special. But – secret – it’s really just Good Cranberry Sauce, free of highly refined, GMO-derived sugar and anything that slithers out of a can.
Bad cooks: if you’re asked to bring a dish to holiday dinner, and you’re not a high-achiever in the kitchen, and your family isn’t one for true from-scratch cooking, volunteer to bring cranberry sauce.
Therefore, they probably don’t know how easy-peasy real, non-canned cranberry sauce actually is to make and will therefore be incredibly impressed with your contribution.
And practice making it all year round.
Cranberries can be added to almost anything to pucker up the flavor. I’ve added cranberry sauce to bison hash, burgers, and to roasted root vegetables. (If you’re wanting my recipe for bison hash, here it is: Put onion, bison, and butternut squash chunks in a skillet. Cook it.)
Homemade Jellied Cranberry Sauce Instructions
Gather and Rinse Your Cranberries
Get your frozen or fresh cranberries together, it’s your call! Just please, for the love of all things cranberry, don’t use cranberry sauce from a can. That stuff is best used for questionable practical jokes, not culinary adventures.
Then you’re going to want to rinse those cranberries off like they just had a wild night out! That’s right, there may be dirt or chemicals all over your berries after buying them. So just clean ‘em up
Time to add some sugar—because cranberries need a little sweet talk to show their true colors. Let’s go with a ⅓ cup of whatever refined sugar you choose for every 10-ish ounces of cranberries.
Everybody stay calm! Don’t be afraid of the sweetener in this recipe. For 95% of people, STRESSING over a little sugar is worse than HAVING a little sugar. I’m not low-carb, and I don’t use artificial sweeteners. I rarely use Stevia.
Adjust to taste if you’re feeling rebellious, but be warned, too little sugar may result in a tart attack on your taste buds! To make cranberries taste yummy, you have to balance the tart with some sweetness. Trust.
Pop in about half a cup of water—just enough to give those cranberries a splash to dance in (but not too much, we don’t want them to go skinny dipping!)
Remember, for every 10-ish ounces of cranberries, you’ll mix 1/3 cup of water with 1/3 cup of the minimally-refined sugar of your choice, whether that be raw honey, maple syrup, fresh-squeezed juice, or unicorn tears.
Turn Up the Heat
Fire up your stovetop and bring that simple syrup concoction to a boil. Let it bubble and froth, like a little jacuzzi party.
So: put the water and sweet stuff in a saucepan (but DON’T add the berries yet). Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring so all the sweetener dissolves, THEN add the cranberries.
Once it’s boiling, and the cranberries are added, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. This is where the cranberries get nice and tender, transforming from little tart bombs into jiggly cranberry delights. (Oh, the magic of heat!)
Cook for about 10 minutes. You’ll notice the cranberries “popping” (kinda) and everything will sorta meld together, thickening over the course of 10 minutes.
Time for the magical transformation from cranberry soup to jellied cranberry sauce. Grab a fine mesh strainer or a food mill, and strain that cranberry mixture into a bowl. Give it a good press to get all that cranberry goodness out. (We want every last drop, don’t we?)
Now, let it cool—don’t rush! Put that cranberry sauce in the fridge to set for a few hours. Patience is a virtue, my friend—trust me, it’ll be worth the wait!
Take a moment to admire your handiwork. You’ve just created a wiggly, jiggly masterpiece! Give yourself a round of applause, you culinary genius, you!
Can You Make Cranberry Sauce Ahead Of Time?
Making cranberry sauce ahead of time is not only possible but highly recommended. Whip up a delightful concoction of cranberries, sugar, water, and a hint of orange zest on medium heat for 15 minutes—the aromas will drive you wild!
Once it’s cooled to room temperature, transfer it to the fridge; it’ll sit there peacefully until the big day. And if you’re all about that jellied goodness, a fine mesh sieve will transform your sauce into a smooth delight.
So, go ahead, save your sanity, and let your cranberry sauce mingle and develop flavors ahead of time.
How Long Does Homemade Cranberry Sauce Last?
Get ready for some fantastic news, my friend! Homemade cranberry sauce can last up to a week or two in the fridge—now that’s endurance. Just let it cool to room temperature, store it in an airtight container, and you’re good to go.
But hold on!
If you’re fond of jellied cranberry sauce (no judgment here), you can extend its lifespan even further. Use the water bath canning method to seal it in sterilized jars, and it’ll stay fresh for months.
Just follow proper canning procedures, and you’re set. And, if you’re rockin’ the store-bought jellied cranberry sauce, check the label for storage recommendations. Remember, even cranberry sauce has limits, so keep an eye out for mold growth or funky odors.
Enjoy your cranberry sauce for days, my friend, as life is just better with cranberry sauce.
Whip Up Your Own Lip-Smacking Cranberry Sauce Delight!
You can play with this recipe in a thousand ways, and most of them are guaranteed to impress.
And for non-summer holidays, add 1 tsp of cinnamon (or a cinnamon stick) and a pinch of clove to the mix as it cooks. Switch out the water for fresh orange juice. Use fairy sweat instead of unicorn tears.
Get crazy. They’re only cranberries.