The virtues of cranberries are being touted everywhere these days. Seriously--they're not only good for us, they're pretty and festive, not to mention delicious. Still, every year when I have to pass by a wall of canned jelled cranberries, I cringe and avert my eyes. That canned stuff is evil.
A half-hour of work and two bags of fresh cranberries can furnish you an entire holiday season of cranberry sauce, plus a jar to give away. If you make this the first week the berries appear in the stores, you get a jump on the season's cooking-- and you'll never have to turn back to the dark side again!
Allow me to share:
Start with 2 bags of fresh cranberries, picked over, in a saucepan.
(Set aside a scant 2 cups; this should leave you with a pound, give or take.)
Grate about a tsp of orange zest, then juice 3-4 oranges for 1 cup of fresh OJ.
Add that to the pan along with 1 cup of sugar.
Bring rapidly to a boil, stirring often; lower the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Continue to stir frequently as this boils.
Some of the berries will be left unpopped, but don't worry about them. The natural pectin will cause this sauce to jell without any further effort on your part.
Remove from the heat and add the orange zest, then ladle into jars--pretty jelly jars for gift-giving, but at least 1 pint jar --or a bowl-- for your Thanksgiving table. Refrigerate any sauce that is not in a sealed jar. It keeps beautifully, and it's also tasty as a jelly on rolls or toast.
What about the other 2 cups? Sometimes I've had to discard a lot of berries and don't have this many extra, in which case I just add more berries to the saucepan. But if I have a gracious plenty, I make this:
Cut a thin-skinned orange into chunks, removing seeds and some of the membrane--but don't get too picky. Measure out 1/2 cup sugar and place in blender or food processor with the orange. Chop; then scrape down bowl and add cranberries and chop briefly.
Do this in two small batches if using a blender, or in one batch if using a food processor. Do not over-process. Voila. This keeps well (refrigerated, of course) and improves if allowed to mellow for a few days before serving.