November 19, 2011

Cranberry Sauce

Today Jordan I did our shopping for Thanksgiving. It's something I have to do way a head of time because I can't handle the crowds as we get closer to the holiday. Wednesday at the store, people will be stressed and grumpy and it makes me sad. But the weekend before everyone is still in a good mood and courteous and looking forward to the big meal. I had a great conversation today with a complete stranger about the best ways to cook Brussels Sprouts.

Generally, I feel that anything mass processed and canned is pretty icky so we make everything from scratch for Thanksgiving. No can of soup mixed with canned green beans for us. But I do understand why people choose the pre-made options. Making things like pumpkin pie filling from scratch takes a whole day. Most of us work 9-5 jobs, have families and don't have enough time to roast two sugar pumpkins. And if you've never had homemade pumpkin pie you probably don't know what you're missing (it's pumpkin flavor if you were wondering.)

There is one Thanksgiving staple that I can't understand why anyone would choose the canned version - cranberry sauce. I mean seriously - it comes out of the can like dog food and can be sliced into perfect circles - gross! Plus, making cranberry sauce is so easy. The only equipment needed that many don't have is a food mill. But a food mill is a really good thing to have - you can make apple sauce and pear sauce and marinara sauce and, yep, cranberry sauce.

Here are the directions for making homemade cranberry sauce. You can make it way a head of time - weeks really. And leftovers are great on toast.

In a soup pot, bring 2 cups water and 4 cups whole, fresh cranberries to boil. Simmer until the cranberries burst. Place a second soup pot on the stove over medium heat and set the food mill on the pot. Pour the water and cranberries through the food mill into the second pot. Mill the berries until all that is left are the skins - discard the skins. Stir in to the sauce, 2 cups sugar and the juice from 1/2 an orange - the orange juice is optional so if you don't have an orange just skip it. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the jam thickens and sheets off a metal spoon. Sheeting is when you lift the spoon out of the sauce and tip the spoon to the side and the sauce, instead of dripping off in single drips, glops together a bit and drips of in a sheet. It takes about a 1/2 hour or 45 minutes. Pour the sauce into jars or jelly forms or small Tupperwear containers. Put lids on the containers and let cool to room temperature. Place in fridge until you need it. You'll get about 4 half-pints of sauce. It will be a brilliant color red with incredible flavor. You'll never be able to eat the canned stuff again. But that's true for nearly all canned foods - once you've had the real deal you can't go back.

No comments: