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Mama’s Easy Cranberry Sauce

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

One of my favorite “Thanksgiving food memories” is my mother’s fresh cranberry sauce.  As a child, I was allowed to stir the berries as they bubbled on the stove and readily accepted the challenge of pressing the berries against the side of the pan until they popped.  It was so hard to wait until this ruby-hued mixture cooled and thickened prior to our big meal and my mother quickly learned not to place the cranberry sauce too close to my seat or there would be little left for others at the table!
As the years passed, my mother’s cranberry sauce was the one constant at our meal and even when we began to embrace the convenience of roasted turkey prepared in advance, the cranberry sauce was always made in Mama’s kitchen.  Finally, the time came when maintaining the house became too much for my mom and she made plans to move to an apartment in a graduated-care community located in a neighboring town. There would be one more family Thanksgiving dinner in Mom’s small kitchen, and I felt an urgency to learn the special technique that made her cranberry sauce so special.  “Please tell me how you make this”,  I asked my mom while reaching for a piece of paper, “And I will write down your recipe”.  With a chuckle, Mom picked up the plastic bag that had most recently held the fresh cranberries.  “The recipe is on the back of the bag”, she said.  “It’s the one I have always used.” And so it was…the cranberry sauce recipe that I had thought was a “family secret” was described in 3 ingredients on the back of every bag of cranberries.  But to me and my family, it will always be “Mama’s cranberry sauce”.
Happy Thanksgiving!


Mama’s Easy Cranberry Sauce


12 ounce bag fresh cranberries
1 cup of sugar
1 cup water


Place cranberries in a colander. Carefully look through the cranberries and discard those that are discolored or shriveled. Rinse thoroughly and drain.
Pour the rinsed cranberries in a large sauce pan. Sprinkle the sugar over the cranberries, and then use a wooden spoon to mix the sugar with the cranberries. Pour the water over the cranberry/sugar mixture. Bring cranberries and water to a boil and then reduce the heat to allow a gentle boil. When you hear the berries begin to “pop”, use the wooden spoon to stir the cranberry mixture frequently, pressing the berries against the wall of the saucepan to help them pop, as this releases the juice from the cranberries and helps the sauce to begin to thicken.
When all berries have “popped”, remove the cranberry mixture from the stove and allow it to cool in the pan, uncovered.  The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
Transfer the cranberry sauce to a serving bowl.  (I prefer a glass bowl to display the beauty of the cranberries suspended in the sauce)  The sauce can be served at room temperature, or made a day ahead and refrigerated to serve later.
Serving variations…
1) Of course, there’s the traditional method of pairing cranberry sauce with slices of turkey. (Sometimes, I suspect there’s more cranberry sauce than turkey on my plate)
2) Cranberry sauce makes a great spread to add to turkey sandwiches. (Yes, it might be a bit messy, but it’s oh, so good)
3) And my favorite variation…spoon cranberry sauce over a serving of vanilla ice cream. (Try it…I guarantee it will become one of your favorite quick desserts)



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