One thing that always makes me feel Christmassy (aside from putting up the decs) is making cranberry sauce for Christmas dinner.
It should be said that we don’t use cranberry sauce as a condiment, rather as a side dish all of it’s very own. This is partly why I like to make it from scratch, the flavour is far far superior to a shop bought cranberry sauce, and the texture is softer and less gelatinous. We tend to eat the entire jar of sauce in the one sitting.
This sauce is so ridiculously easy that it’s almost easier to make it up rather than buy it, so if you don’t usually make your own, why not give it a try this year?
1 packet of fresh cranberries. These are now very readily available at this time of year. I picked ours up at Waitrose this year, in previous years I have bought them from Sainsbury’s and at a local greengrocer. You can use frozen if you can’t get them fresh. You need roughly 300g.
170g of white caster sugar.
The juice and zest of an orange
You can also throw in a few cloves, grate in a bit of nutmeg and sprinkle some cinammon in for a bit of seasonal warmth if you like (I do).
If you are making it in advance, a kilner jar with a seal or a large jam jar. You will need to sterilise this otherwise the sauce might go mouldy. I do this by giving it a good wash and then popping it in a low oven (150°C ish). If you are using a kilner jar with a plastic seal, be sure not to put this in the oven, as it may well melt.
Firstly, wash your cranberries, drain off and set aside.
Zest the orange. Do this before you extract the juice or you’ll find it almost impossible to get the zest.
Bring up to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or so. The cranberries will begin to burst and the juice will turn a nice deep red.
At this point it’s nice to add some spices along with your orange zest. I use a few cloves, a pinch of cinnamon and some freshly grated nutmeg. Throw them all in the pan of bubbling cranberries. Another great addition is a splash of port.
Give it a good stir to break up any cranberries which have stubbornly decided not to pop and allow it to come to the boil once more. As soon as it does, remove the pan from the heat. Cranberries contain a lot of pectin, which is what makes it set, so you might notice at this point the sauce has become a lot thicker. If it coats the back of a metal spoon, it’s done.
Spoon it into your pre-sterilised container, allow to cool a little, and seal. It will last a good couple of weeks quite happily on the side, or you can put it in the fridge.
And just incase another argument for making this in advance was needed, the flavours really will marry and the sauce will taste even more epic come Christmas day.