Saturday, December 8, 2012

Have You Met Cranberry Sauce?

First, let me be clear:

I will eat the hell out of a slab of canned jellied cranberry sauce. I do not shun the mysterious cylindrical food object. I just... like options.

The many, many degrees of separation canned cranberry sauce seems to have from cranberries always made me suspect that making cranberry sauce was really difficult, something best relegated to food scientists and large corporations. Monsanto, maybe. I knew that I had witnessed homemade cranberry sauce at family dinners, but I figured it must have taken twice as much time and effort as the turkey.

It's only been a few weeks since I glanced at the back of a package of cranberries and had my revelation:

Cranberry sauce is one of the top ten easiest things you'll ever make. It's almost automatic. You boil your liquid with sugar. You add the cranberries and keep boiling. They pop! They splatter! They ruin your shirt! (Wear an apron, use a lid - do both.) About 7 minutes in, the texture of the concoction changes dramatically - aha! pectin! - and shortly after, your dish is done. If you want to, you can use a spoon or potato masher to break up the berries, but the truth is, they break up quite nicely without any intervention. Pour it into a dish (I recommend wide and flat, for optimum cooling), press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface (unless you're one of those people who likes skin on their puddings and jellies. weirdo.), let it cool on the counter for about an hour, then toss it in the fridge. Another hour, and it'll be just about ready to go (assuming you heed aforementioned wide and flat advice). And just like that, it'll be gone. This stuff is good.

Cranberry Sauce

Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce
Serves 4-6

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2-1 tsp baking spice (I used a mix of ginger, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg)
  • pinch of salt
  • 12oz bag cranberries, rinsed
Bring cider to boil, add sugar, and stir until dissolved. Add baking spice, salt, and cranberries. Simmer over low heat, covered, for about ten minutes. Mash further if desired, and pour out into serving dish. Cover surface with plastic wrap, cool for an hour at room temperature, then toss in the fridge. Watch disappear.

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