[74] Firm Cranberry Sauce

How to Cook Everything, Revised Edition by Mark Bittman

This Thanksgiving, there was great temptation to jettison anything I don’t like to eat. After all, I’m the cook. Also, there were only going to be four people eating. Finally, our guests would have NO IDEA what’s traditional and what’s not.

I’m telling you this because, yes, I was tempted to dump the cranberry sauce. It’s never been a Thanksgiving food I enjoy. Bill, however, wanted some and I’d bought a pile of cranberries for cranberry liquor (to be posted sometime in February), and had some leftover. Also, I wanted another recipe for this challenge. Man, that’s a song you all have heard before, eh?

I’m really glad I made it. It’s still not my favorite food, but I did enjoy this batch. Probably my tastebuds have matured and the added sugar helps.

h2. Ingredients

4 c fresh cranberries
2 c sugar

2 c Water (NOT LISTED!)

h2. Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries burst (roughly 15 minutes). Then transfer to a bowl and chill until ready to serve, up to a week covered in the fridge.

h2. Cooking and Consumption Notes

h3. Cooking

Oh, man. Let me remind you how much I hate it when an ingredient isn’t listed, even if it is a “pantry staple”.

Imagine you are making your second Thanksgiving ever, and you want it to be stellar because it’s the first Thanksgiving celebration ever for your guests. Further imagine you’ve wanted to use your grandmother’s jello mold for the cranberry sauce, but didn’t want to use the “press’n’seal” saran wrap you have for a cover, because it leaves behind a sticky residue. Thus, it’s the night before Thanksgiving and you’ve decided that you should make tomorrow’s cooking easier by making the cranberry sauce now and not worrying about a cover for a night.

However, you’re also a bit tired, trying to do a gazillion things, and so you go to make the cranberry sauce. You’ve read through it a couple of times, you think you have it down. So you dump in the sugar and the cranberries (aka the listed ingredients), put them on the stove over medium-low heat, and go about your business. Occasionally checking on them and being surprised nothing’s happening. Until finally your beloved partner comes in, you express your confusion to them and they say, “Uh… I think you should double check the recipe.” At that point, you notice you’ve missed adding 2 c of water to the dish because you missed it in the tired read-through.


After all of that, cooking was fairly straightforward. It did, however, take a lot longer than the 15 minutes mentioned. I’m not sure why. Just stick with it, and all will be well.

h3. Consumption

Well, when I read this, I thought it could be molded with the whole cranberries in it. That didn’t work out for me as I’d planned. The molding was a failure. It was fun to try, though. I think I needed to cook it into “jelly”, which entailed cooking it for 5 min after the berries burst, then straining everything into a mold and chilling until firm.

That would also have made a clearer lobster, in the event it actually firmed up properly.

Still, it was so tasty. Tart, sweet, so good. I can taste why so many people add some orange zest to their Thanksgiving cranberries. It just seems like it would be even more delicious.

A keeper. I’ll make this again for sure.