Find out how to make homemade cranberry sauce because Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner just wouldn’t be the same without it. Even if you don’t eat it, the color and aroma alone let you know it’s a special day.
HISTORY OF CRANBERRY SAUCE
Cranberries have been around for a very long time, but they have not always lived to become cranberry sauce. Native American Indians harvested cranberries for use as a preservative. They also used them for food and medicinal purposes.
Native Americans taught settlers in the New World all they knew about harvesting the local foods and their uses. It is believed that, as a food, the Pilgrims most likely used cranberries as a flavoring in a stew or in stuffing; it is not known if they ate them at their first Thanksgiving celebration but if they were eaten it would not have been in the form of cranberry sauce. Even if the pilgrims did stew the berries, sugar was a rare and expensive commodity, and it is believed very unlikely that they would have used it to make jelly.
It is widely believed that the first cranberry sauce came into existence one Thanksgiving during the American Civil War. The Union and Confederate armies would call a truce for the day and would observe Thanksgiving. The men in charge of cooking meals for the camps would be given the task of preparing a ‘feast’ as best they could. General Ulysses S.Grant is said to have told his cooks to prepare a sauce made from the berries, and a new tradition was born.
IS CRANBERRY SAUCE EATEN AT CHRISTMAS?
Cranberry sauce is a major staple at Thanksgiving dinner. It has also become popular for Christmas dinner especially if you are having a more traditional Christmas dinner.
Knowing how to make homemade cranberry sauce will make preparing this traditional dish easy for you every year at the holidays.
Cranberry sauce is very simple to make but should be prepared at least one day ahead of time to allow the berries to sweeten and the sauce to cool.
Don’t worry if cranberry sauce isn’t your favorite holiday side dish….I have a big list of ideas for how to use the leftovers later on in the article.
BENEFITS OF CRANBERRIES
Cranberries are very nutritious, they are high in vitamin c, good for the urinary tract, and are high in antioxidants.
There are actually lots of ways to incorporate cranberries into your diet if you get creative.
INGREDIENTS FOR HOMEMADE CRANBERRY SAUCE
When you are learning how to make homemade cranberry sauce you will start by making a basic version. You can decide if you want to add other optional ingredients or not!
- Granulated sugar
- Fresh cranberries
- Candied citron
- Substitute fresh orange juice for part of the water
- Substitute red wine for part of the water
- Chopped walnuts
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground star anise
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE CRANBERRY SAUCE
I love the color of cranberries!! This brings such a brightness to the table.
- Pour fresh cranberries into a large colander and rinse, checking for berries with soft spots. Throw out any soft berries.
- Pour sugar and water into a large pot, stirring to dissolve the sugar. (Be sure to use a wooden spoon to avoid sugar crystals forming during cooking)
- Stir in the berries.
- Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until skins begin to pop, about 5 min. If you would like a more jellied sauce, continue cooking for ten more minutes.
- Stir in any optional ingredient from the list above
- Remove from heat
- Cool completely
HOW TO USE LEFTOVER CRANBERRY SAUCE
I will admit that I am not a huge fan of cranberry sauce. A lot of people don’t care for the sauce alone, but find it is very good added to other foods.
Here are some ideas of ways to use the leftover cranberry sauce.
- Use leftover cranberry sauce as a condiment for sandwiches. (Leftover stuffing goes well on a sandwich too)
- Mix sauce with cream cheese and spread on crackers or use in place of jelly on peanut butter sandwich
- Mix in a cup of cranberry sauce with the apples in your favorite apple pie recipe
- Add 3/4 cup cranberry sauce (well-drained in a colander) to muffin mix or quick bread mix
- Cream cheese and cranberry pouches. Using canned croissant dough, place a tsp of cream cheese and a tsp of cranberry sauce in the middle of each dough triangle. Fold the sides of the croissant up over the filling, twist and pinch the top to form a purse. Bake according to package directions
- Sweet and spicy chicken dipping sauce. Mix 1/2 cup cranberry sauce with 1/2 tsp Sriracha hot chili sauce, add 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp soy sauce (adjust to your taste preference)
Cranberries are very versatile and can go with a long list of sweet or savory foods. Keep experimenting and find your favorites.
HOMEMADE CRANBERRY DRESSING RECIPE
You can print off the complete ingredients and instructions via the recipe card below.
- 2 Cups granulated sugar
- 2 Cups of water
- 1 pound fresh cranberries
- 1/3 cup chopped candied citron
- Substitute 1/2 cup fresh orange juice for 1/2 cup water
- Substitute 1/2 cup red wine for 1/2 cup of the water
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup finely diced celery
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground star anise
1. Pour fresh cranberries into a large colander and rinse, checking for berries with soft spots. Throw out any soft berries.
2. Pour sugar and water into a large pot, stirring to dissolve the sugar. (Be sure to use a wooden spoon to avoid sugar crystals forming during cooking)
3. Stir in berries
4. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until skins begin to pop, about 5 min. If you would like a more jellied sauce, continue cooking for ten more minutes.
5. Stir in any optional ingredient from the list above.
6. Remove from heat.
7. Cool completely before serving. This is a great recipe to make the day before!
MORE CHRISTMAS DINNER IDEAS
If you loved this article on how to make homemade cranberry sauce be sure to check out these other delicious recipes to make your Christmas dinner a success!
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows
- Tips on Roasting a Turkey for Christmas Dinner
- Christmas Appetizer Tree
- Easy Cornbread Dressing Recipe for the Holidays
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