There is no need to buy canned when fresh cranberry sauce is so much better, is very easy to prepare, and can also be made days in advance of your Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. This recipe for fresh cranberry sauce with orange juice and zest is sweetened entirely with pure maple syrup instead of refined sugars. It is a tastier version with a greater depth of flavour that perfectly compliments your delicious turkey.
The Difference Fresh Cranberries Make
I didn’t grow up eating cranberry sauce. Cranberries are just not a thing in Croatian cuisine. When I tried it the first time, I was not convinced. Of course, that first taste was of overly-sweetened canned cranberry sauce and it just tasted like candy.
I didn’t get it.
The second time I tried it at a Thanksgiving dinner. The tart sour-sweet cranberries were such a perfect complement to the fatty roasted turkey. This time around it was a lovely fresh cranberry sauce, lightly sweetened and full of bright fruit flavours.
I was hooked. If you consider cranberry sauce a passing afterthought, some optional relish on your holiday table, consider making a fresh version this year. Try my recipe!
Cranberry Sauce for the Holidays & The History of This Staple
Do you know the history of cranberry sauce and why we eat it on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas?
Cranberries are a wild perennial native to North America. Native Indigenous populations have a long and rich history using cranberries both as food and as medicine. (Cranberry juice for UTI’s for example — although making fresh cranberry sauce would likely be a better treatment as most cranberry juice is a fruit blend and largely just water and sugar).
The first settlers of North America would have been introduced to cranberries by these Native populations. And although the complicated history of Thanksgiving is beyond the scope of this article, the famines faced by many of the earliest settlers likely saw cranberry become an important food source for many of them in a strange new land. Not just because they are nutritious and medicinal, but also as a way to make their available foods more palatable with the interesting sweet and sour tartness.
Cranberries as a sauce and accompaniment to meat have been a documented part of North American culinary history as early as the 19th century. It goes well with turkey obviously, but it is also fantastic with wild game.
The industrialization of agriculture and the mechanization of fresh cranberry harvesting is what gave us the familiar cranberry sauce or jelly in a can.
Mechanization and increased yields saw an increase in “imperfect” and “ugly” cranberry fruits. And the perfect solution to fruit that the public doesn’t want to buy for shallow reasons — is to turn it into a sauce where imperfections cannot be seen.
This further cemented cranberry sauce as a part of North American culinary history.
Can Cranberry Sauce Be Make In Advance?
Yes! Several days. I’ve had it in the refrigerator for longer than a week with no changes in flavour or texture.
This is perfect for your holiday dinner because you don’t need one more distraction or chore on the day of a big dinner party.
So definitely make your cranberry sauce in advance!
Cranberry Sauce Beyond The Holidays
I firmly believe that cranberry sauce is for more than Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
It is a lovely and versatile sauce that can accompany any number of meats, from pork to moose. And it is a delicious dessert topping.
Make a rustic cake, and top it with fresh cranberry sauce. You can’t go wrong. And since cranberries are so affordable, and cranberry sauce keeps for days on end in the refrigerator, you can quickly make a sauce in less than 20 minutes and enjoy it through the week, adding an interesting element to your usual dinner fare.
More Recipes To Use Cranberry Sauce:
- Country Peasant Pork & Mushroom Pâté With Wild Berry Topping
- Marinated Fried Anchovies With Grilled Halloumi
If you tried this recipe or have any questions, let me know in the comments!
Fresh Cranberry Sauce With Orange & Maple Syrup
This fresh cranberry sauce with orange juice and zest is sweetened with maple syrup.
- Prep Time: 1 minute
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 11 minutes
- Yield: 8 people 1x
- Category: Sauce
- Method: Boiling
- Cuisine: North America
- 1 bag of fresh cranberries
- 1 cup of amber or dark maple syrup
- 1/2 cup water (or more fruit juice)
- Juice & zest of 1 orange
- 1 cinammon stick
- Pinch of salt
In a medium saucepan, add the fresh cranberries, water, juice, zest, maple syrup, cinammon stick, and pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Allow to come to room temperature and then store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Before serving, allow to come to room temperature (30 minutes)
Keywords: cranberry sauce, Thanksgiving, Christmas, holiday recipes, fruit