Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cranberry Season

Yesterday my older son was off for election day.  After we dropped the little one at preschool, we ran a few errands.  First stop was at Home Depot to buy paint for the dining room.  While we were waiting for the paint to be mixed, the girls behind the counter were talking about Thanksgiving dinner.  One loves stuffing and the other doesn't.  I chime in, I'm not a stuffing lover, but I adore homemade cranberry sauce.  So the stuffing lover asked how I make it.  I told her and she jotted it down.  Then she copied it for the other girl who wanted to make it for her mother because her mother loves cranberry sauce.  This is the recipe I shared:

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

1 bag cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup water
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar

In a 3 quart sauce pan, put cranberries, water, and sugar.  Turn the heat to medium, cover with lid and cook until all berries have popped and it's bubbly, stir occassionally.  Turn off the heat after 15 minutes.  Allow sauce to cool for 15 minutes.  Then pour into container and refrigerate.  Or if you prefer no seeds and skins, you can work the sauce through a mesh strainer with a rubber spatula.  It is tedious, but it's so divine what comes out!  I refrigerate up to a week or freeze up to 6 months.  This creates a tart sauce that's a bit thinner than applesauce.  You can multiply this recipe and adjust the sugar up or down to your tastes.

I remember making cranberry sauce with my mother as a child.  We had the jellied (from a can) kind at my grandparents' home and it was fun to slice and eat - almost like a Jell-O mold, but at home we usually had the fresh kind.  She would let the sauce cool in the pot and then pour it into an antique chinois that my brother and I would take turns using to press the cranberry sauce out into the bowl below with the wooden pestal.  I loved helping with that chore.  You can see a picture of the same kind of chinois  that my mother had during my childhood here.  I don't know what happened to that beautiful simple machine, but I would love to have it for my own cullinary adventures!

These days I use the more complicated Squeez-o strainer with the berry strainer to make my cranberry sauce.  I make 4 bags worth at a time, minimum.  I make it to take to my in-law's for Thanksgiving day, for our celebration on Thanksgiving Saturday, and to freeze and pull out when we have turkey during other times of the year.  I sit with the bowl during dessert and eat the last of it from the meal because I so adore the cranberry.  I love the simplicity of the chinois...  So many of the ones marketed today have mesh strainers (unbearable to clean the cranberry seeds from) - or perforated tin (rust - ick), I prefer the perforated aluminum kind that my mother had.  It will be one of those things that I search out for a while until I find it.

Thank you for reading and have a blessed week!

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