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When I was a kid, I thought all cranberry sauce came out of a can in one big can-shaped jelly mold.  I thought it tasted OK, but something about it was weird and unnatural.  Then many years later I discovered that cranberry sauce could look like, well, sauce.  And it tasted so…delicious.  After that day, I just couldn’t bear to buy the jelly-roll-thing-in-a-can again.

While homemade cranberry sauce does take longer to make than opening a can, I think it’s totally worth it.  And my taste buds agree.  If you’re in a real pinch, or simply will faint if you have to make one thing more thing for the holidays, you could add the spices to a store-bought can of whole cranberry sauce (please stay away from the jelly!).  I promise not to say anything, as long as you pledge to try this recipe later.  OK, now that we’ve done the pinkie swear thing…..

This would be a great sauce to accompany any white meat, which you probably already guessed.  But I encourage you to try it with other foods too, such as swirled into oatmeal or yogurt, dolloped onto vanilla ice cream, or stuffed into baking apples.  I bet you could come up with some fun ways to use it for holiday hors d’oeuvres too.

Recipe for Fresh Spiced Cranberry Sauce

makes about 1½ cups of sauce

  • 1½ cups filtered water
  • ¾ cup sucanat (dehydrated, freshly squeezed sugar cane juice with a natural molasses flavor)
  • 1 (12-oz) bag fresh cranberries – Equals 3 cups
  • ½-1 teaspoon (packed in) freshly grated orange peel – I really enjoyed the stronger taste of orange, but if you only want a hint, try ½ tsp
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional) – It’s great without, but cardamom is such a warm, holiday-ish spice, it’s perfect for this time of year
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour water and sugar into medium pot and heat to a boil, stirring.  Add cranberries and bring to boil again.  Simmer, covered, until cranberries pop and mixture thickens a little (about 15-20 minutes).  Turn off heat.  Stir in rest of ingredients.  Let sit until cools.  Transfer sauce to glass container and chill in fridge until thickens (don’t worry, it will firm up!).

Have a tasty holiday season!

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