Cranberry Sauce Two Ways

I couldn’t decide on how to make my cranberry sauce, so I prepared two separate versions and figured that it ought to cover everybody’s tastes. One is a fairly traditional cranberry sauce, prepared with citrus and sugar and the other is prepared with wine, balsamic vinegar, and dried figs.

Traditional cranberry sauce

Wine & fig cranberry sauce

Growing up, I was never really a fan of cranberry sauce, or so I thought. Honestly, I’m not even really sure if I’d ever tried cranberry sauce, but I had it in my head that I didn’t like it, and that was reason enough for this long. However, I’d never seen cranberry sauce beyond the perfect-can-shaped cylinder of jelly before, so in keeping with my make-everything-from-scratch Thanksgiving, I thought I might as well give it a try as some of the cranberry sauce recipes out there looked pretty tasty (this is where both recipes were largely derived from). The end result: I will never pass up on the chance to have cranberry sauce again. I really enjoyed both of these, so I say buy two bags of cranberries and whip up a batch of each.


Traditional Cranberry Sauce

The traditional cranberry sauce originally called for orange zest, but go figure, the one thing I didn’t have was an orange to zest, so I instead substituted lemon zest. This still worked perfectly well, but if you have a choice, I’d recommend you go with the orange instead. The texture was nice and jelly like, the color really bright and attractive, and the flavor was sweet, just slightly tart, and vibrant but not overwhelming citrus flavored.

  • 1 (12 oz) package fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Several strips of lemon peel, or thick pieces of zest (orange is preferable)
  • 1/8 cup orange juice

Boil cranberries with zest Cranberries boil, burst, froth, and begin to jelly up

In a medium sized saucepan, mix the sugar and water and bring to a boil. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, sort through your cranberries, getting rid of any hard, shriveled, or unripe looking ones and then rinse the final candidates off. Then, grate or pare off strips of zest.

At this point, I’ll assume your water is boiling. Add in the cranberries and zest, waiting a minute or two for the water to start boiling again. Once it does, drop the heat to around medium, keeping things gently boiling for 10-15 minutes. Stir periodically as the cranberries suddenly burst, froth up, and become jelly-like. Once done cooking, mix in the orange juice and take everything off of heat, waiting for things to cool off. Once around room temperature, transfer your cranberry sauce to the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

Wine & Fig Cranberry Sauce

The fig cranberry sauce was really interesting, but the end result really doesn’t quite resemble cranberry sauce. It still worked very well as a condiment in all the same places as normal cranberry sauce and it still tastes absolutely delicious, but if you tell your guests “this is cranberry sauce,” you might get some odd looks. That being said though, this was a much thicker sauce, not really jelly like at all, and appearance-wise, looked really dark and more like a fig sauce. The taste was also dark and complicated, mildly tart, but also curiously fruity. If you weren’t told that this was a cranberry sauce, you might not infer it from taste alone though, but I’m not sure that I’d change a thing about it. I had changed this a good bit from the original (e.g. I thought Port would be far too strong a taste). I had a 50-50 amount of each cranberry sauce on my plate as I worked through the Thanksgiving leftovers.

  • 1 (12 oz) package fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Shiraz (or some other fruity red wine you have handy)
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 8 dried black Mission figs
  • 1/8 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Chop the dried figs

Pull any stems and chop up the dried figs somewhat finely.

Boil the liquid with the rosemary and figs

In a medium sized saucepan, mix everything together except for the (white) sugar and cranberries and bring to a boil. Stir periodically until the brown sugar dissolves, and once boiling and dissolved, reduce the heat to a simmer, gently simmering for 10 minutes. Once time is up, remove the rosemary.

Now that the mixture is ready, add the cranberries and white sugar. Raise the heat to medium, cooking until the liquid reduces and the berries burst, stirring for roughly 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, transferring to the refrigerator until ready to serve.


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7 Responses to “Cranberry Sauce Two Ways”

  1. Pam Says:

    The fig one sounds really interesting.

  2. mike Says:

    Pam — it really was and I’m sad to be scraping the last of it out of the tupperware this evening. I might just have to grab another bag of cranberries this week so my leftover turkey sandwiches have the condiment they so desire.

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