My brother-in-law, Anthony, hails from Arkansas. He loves canned cranberry sauce. He grew up eating it as part of their Thanksgiving dinners and looks for it every year so I’ve made it a point to always have a can on hand for him each Thanksgiving. That being said, have you looked at the ingredients list for the canned stuff? It’s not very healthy. It’s made with high fructose corn syrup, for one.
So several years ago, I decided to try making my own jellied cranberry sauce. I even bought a pretty mold to put it in. Now the operative word is “tried.” I tried several times and failed…. miserably. Somehow, the sauce never quite seemed to work. It either didn’t jell, or didn’t taste good, or something was always wrong. But now, by jove, I think I’ve got it! Finally, this one not only tastes good but holds its shape when taken out of the mold! If you really have to have that can shape, you can pour this into an empty can or two and chill them in the fridge until ready to serve.
This sauce uses a lot of cranberries because you only use the liquid that you get from straining them. That leaves a lot of cranberries to discard. If you don’t want to waste the cranberry solids, don’t throw them away. Use them to make a second batch of cranberry sauce so your guests will have 2 kinds to choose from. Just stir in 1/2 cup or so of orange juice, or water, or even wine like cabernet or merlot into the solids. Transfer to a bowl and serve. You can even jazz it up by adding the zest from 1 large orange, a little cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, chopped pecans, etc.
JELLIED CRANBERRY SAUCE
(Makes about 6 cups)
- 4 (12-oz.) bags fresh cranberries
- 4 cups sugar
- 3 cups cold water
- 2 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
- ⅓ cup cold water
- Place cranberries in a colander and rinse them under cold running water, picking out and discarding any wrinkly or mushy ones, or any stems you might find.
- In a large saucepan, bring cranberries, sugar, and 3 cups water to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
- Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until all the berries have burst, about 10-15 minutes.
- Pour into a large fine-mesh sieve set over a 2-quart glass measure or bowl, pressing on the solids to extract all the juices. If you want your jelly to be more “clear” with less of an applesauce consistency, don’t press on the solids. Just pour the sauce into the sieve and let stand about 30 minutes or until all juices have drained through. Note that you will get less liquid this way.
- While cranberries are draining, place the ⅓ cup water and gelatin into a small sauce pot and stir together with a wire whisk. Let stand about a minute to soften.
- Add 1 cup of the drained cranberry liquid to the gelatin mixture and bring to a simmer over low heat, gently stirring with the whisk till gelatin is completely dissolved.
- Pour gelatin mixture back into remaining cranberry liquid and stir well.
- Pour cranberry sauce into lightly oiled decorative mold or small individual molds.
- Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic wrap against the cranberry sauce to prevent a skin from forming, and set aside to cool.
- Place in refrigerator to chill until firmly set, preferably overnight.
TO UNMOLD: Run tip of a thin knife between edge of mold and cranberry jelly. Tilt mold sideways and tap side of mold against a padded work surface, turning and tapping to break the seal and loosen cranberry jelly. Keeping mold tilted, invert a plate over the mold, then invert cranberry jelly onto the plate.
NOTE: Jellied cranberry sauce can be chilled in the mold for up to 3 days.
It can also be unmolded 1 hour ahead and kept chilled or at room temperature before serving.