In my family, there is always canned cranberry sauce, sliced into rounds and still shaped like the can. I love that stuff. It’s exactly the best thing that happens at Thanksgiving and no other time of the year. That said, my family also always has real cranberry sauce with whole cranberries in it. And I love that stuff, too. What can I say? I’m a flip-flopper. I’m wishy-washy. I totally ride the fence on this issue. There should be both kinds of cranberry sauce on any Thanksgiving table. Always both.
So, the canned kind is pretty easy… it’s just a slicing issue. (It’s funny that I say that because last year at Thanksgiving, that was my only job and when we sat down, there was no canned cranberry sauce on the table because I forgot about it. In my defense, I was really busy stirring pots and holding babies and sneaking tastes of things.) Anyway, the canned stuff is sort of a day-of thing, but the real stuff can be made way ahead of time! I say do it now. The grocery store is definitely not out of cranberries yet, and the smell of the sauce cooking will get you all excited about Thanksgiving.
This year, Jason and I are having a little pre-Thanksgiving at our house for our friends, which I’m really excited about. I never get to host Thanksgiving (aka cook), so I’m making it happen this year. The whole shebang, just on a smaller scale. Then, I’m going to my best friend’s house for the real deal. This means that I get to have two totally separate Thanksgivings, which is the best possible situation.
If you make your real cranberry sauce early, you can give your friends a jar and save them the trouble, too. All things considered, cranberry sauce is a really easy thing to throw together. It’s just cranberries, orange zest and a little juice, cranberry juice, and maple syrup. It takes about a half hour to throw together.
Here’s the recipe: (yields 2 pints)
2 bags frozen (or fresh) cranberries (20 ounces)
2 cups 100% cranberry juice
2 cups pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
6 tablespoons fresh orange juice
zest from one orange
Put everything in a large, heavy bottom pot and bring it to a rolling boil. Let it boil while stirring, for about 4 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to medium and stir for 10-20 minutes or until the sauce thickens considerably. (It will still be a little loose while it’s hot, but it’ll gel more when it cools.) When it’s done, pour the sauce into 2 pint jars or 4 half-pint jars. Process it in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes.