One of my favourite things about Christmas food is cranberry sauce. I love the full, tart, rich, slightly bitter and fruity flavour of it and I’ve never been able to understand why people buy it premade because it’s so easy to make at home and so much nicer than the shop bought stuff. I also feel that particularly here in the UK, it’s very undervalued as a condiment. It’s incredibly versatile and goes with both white and dark meats alike, especially game meats like duck and venison. I’ve also never really understood why it’s restricted to the festive season here. Cranberries are so amazingly good for you, containing a load of antioxidants amongst other things, so it makes sense to eat them all year round, especially if you are prone to UTIs. The good news is that cranberry sauce is an awful lot like jam so if you store it properly, you can keep unopened jars exactly the same as you would keep jam.
After Christmas I like to go to the supermarket around new year’s eve and get a bulk buy of cranberries then. This year I found them at Morrison’s reduced to 8p (£0.08) per punnet. 16 pence for several months’ supply of deliciousness?? Yes please! Buying them after Christmas is a great idea because the stores are all reducing their festive stock so will often heavily discount them. And if you don’t have time to make cranberry sauce straight away, chuck the punnets straight into the freezer and you don’t even have to defrost them when you get a moment to make your sauce. You can just chuck them straight in the pan (after rinsing).
So…cranberry sauce. Per punnet of cranberries you will need the zest and juice of one large orange, a slug of port and 3 rounded dessert spoons of sugar. Throw it all in a medium size pan and let it simmer over a low heat until the cranberries have broken down and gone dark and glassy, maybe 10 – 15 minutes. Et voila! Cranberry sauce! It’s really that simple.
This batch was made with 2 punnets of cranberries so I used the zest and juice of 2 oranges, 6 heaped spoons of coconut palm sugar (lower GI), about 3/4 cup of port and a teaspoon of ground cloves.
If you don’t have port you can use pretty much anything, including red wine, spiced rum, whisky, brandy…whatever. or you can just not put any in at all and add the juice of another orange or two.
I like to add spices to mine, hence the ground cloves. I’ve done it with cinnamon, which was nice. You could try using star anise or something similar for that extra depth, but it’s really personal choice.
Cranberries have a tonne of pectin in so the sauce will set pretty quickly as it cools. It’s easier to serve it straight into containers while it’s hot. If it’s for your festive week or dinner over the next few days, stick it in a bowl, cover it with cling film and put it in the fridge when it’s cool. If it’s for storage, can it as you would can jam.