Whole Fruit Cranberry Sauce! IT’S GO TIME. I’ve been waiting to share this recipe with you. ALL. YEAR. GUYS. In a word, it’s divine. Sugar and spice and everything nice –fresh cranberries, diced granny smith apples, minced orange zest, a splash of OJ, a lets-not-talk-about-it-cause-it’s-the-holidays amount of sugar, a little water, and that cinnamon // nutmeg combo that shows up on the reg this time of year.
This ain’t yo mama’s Cranberry Sauce.
For no other reason than because it’s MY mama’s cranberry sauce.
Lovingly prepared over a hot stove-top, which she does for us every year on the much-anticipated Turkey Day. It’s quick, it’s foolproof, and it’s made with whole organic ingredients. And is one of the few things you can truly prep-ahead for the holidays without the quality suffering at all. Which as any home cook // holiday host knows, anything that doesn’t fall into the category of dishes that must be made the morning-of (in that annual mad-dash to get food on the table before your guests arrive) is automatically awarded the status of LIFE-SAVER.
Make it. Put it away. And don’t think about it again until it’s time to eat it. Take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, and start on something else. Like the stuffing, or brining the big bird, or baking bread, glazing the ham, prepping the green beans, baking the veggies, or roasting the sweet potatoes. But this ONE thing. You got it in the bag and can check it off your list.
And yes, you could totallyyyy go for the canned variety of store-bought already made cranberry sauce. If that is your most-favorite thing, then by all means – do it! I have found over the years that people tend to fall into two camps with this stuff. Those who are head-over-heels in love with the classic, traditional smooth jelly-style cranberry sauce –AND- those who are game for something with texture, spice, and a few extras added in. I fall firmly into this latter camp and I ain’t changin’ teams for nobody.
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Because this is the stuff I was raised on. I didn’t even know about the kind that came in a can until I was already well into my adulthood. It all boils down to the simple fact that I was really just never around it to know it even existed. I’m the kid that went home (and still goes home, as in I am HOME right now) for my family thanksgiving EVERY year. If I’m coming to yours, chances are I already went to mine earlier in the day or mine is being held later in the day. For me, that family time spent getting everything together in the kitchen is SO valuable. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I’m in no hurry (as in zero hurry, as in don’t-even-talk-to-me-about-it-pleeeease kind of NO HURRY) to have kids of my own right now. Yes, they are darling and so fun and all those wonderful things. But I am not quiiiiiite ready to be shaping the minds and lives of small humans. Case and point – I put on my leggings inside out not once but TWICE this week.
But the holidays do have a way of making you nostalgic for your own childhood and wondering how to best recreate those memories for any future kiddos you are maybe gonna have someday. I really look forward to teaching my maybe-someday-littles how to cook. It’s my version of playing catch or teaching them to ride a bike around the block. Because those kitchen-centric memories happen to be my fondest memories with my own parents. And you better believe this right here is one of the hand-me-down recipes they will be getting from little old me, and coerced into making with me year after year after year.
Thanksgiving is my mom’s favorite holiday, she loves it more than Christmas and her own birthday combined. Because this day isn’t about presents, or even about celebrating just one person. It’s about pure and simple togetherness. And what better way to show someone just how loved they are than to fill them up with good, nourishing food, and spend a whole lot of quality time with them. Nothing more than sitting down across a table, breaking (corn)bread, swapping stories, and sipping sparkling cider.
That’s my happy zone. THAT. Right there.
We slather this chunky, holiday spread on thick wedges of homemade corn bread every year. Profesh-eating-tip: it pairs excellently with some just-melted butter that you already smeared on top. I devour it all week after Thanksgiving. Scraped generously across freshly toasted bread, folded into muffin batter, stirred into hot oats, or as a cold spread in leftover roasted turkey sandwiches. It’s too sweet and yummy to waste any of it.
So let’s dive in to the how-to’s and what-for’s behind this simple recipe and send you on your merry holiday-ing way!
This is one of the easier ones. Chop stuff, simmer stuff, eat stuff. That’s pretty much it.
Just be sure to:
- Peel the apples! This helps for a smoother texture and ensures there is no bitterness from the peel being simmered in. Dice them into smaller pieces, about ¼” cubes.
- Mince the orange zest! And I did say ZEST of the orange, not the whole peel. That white spongy part that gets exposed when you zest any citrus fruit is called the pith and is pretty bitter tasting. There’s a reason why we don’t eat that stuff unless it is candied within an inch of it’s life, so be careful not to get too much of that stuff in there. One run of the peeler is enough to get the good stuff. Mincing it instead of just using a citrus zester ensures you end up with itty bitty bits of zest in there instead of longer stringy pieces (making for an overall more pleasing mouthfeel). The smaller the pieces you make of any ingredient, the greater the surface area. Similar to how crushed ice melts into water more quickly than large cubes of ice. These small pieces allow the zest to really release its oils and steep into the sauce, softening in texture and blending better with the mixture overall. Here’s a super short youtube video on how to julienne + mince the zest
And on that note, I bid you THE happiest of holidays. May your tummies be full and your hearts be even fuller.
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Whole Fruit Cranberry Sauce
An alternative to the classic canned cranberry sauce, this recipe for homemade Whole Fruit Cranberry Sauce starts with real ingredients. Cranberries, apples, and orange zest are simmered into a thick, flavorful sauce perfect for slathering on turkey or cornbread.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 cups
- Category: Sauce
- Cuisine: American
- 3 c fresh cranberries (about one 12-oz bag)
- 1 granny smith apple
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 ¼ c sugar
- 1 tbs orange juice (about 1/3-1/2 of an orange)
- ¼ c water
- ¾ tbs cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- PREP FRUIT: Rinse and pick over cranberries, discard any that are overly mushy and pick off any remaining stems by hand. Peel, core, and dice a granny smith apple into small ¼” cubes. Peel the zest off of the orange using a vegetable peeler, lay the strips all together and julienne them finely. Finally run a knife through the julienned pieces until finely minced.
- SIMMER INGREDIENTS: Add fruit and all remaining ingredients to a medium-sized lidded sauce pot, stir, and bring to a boil. Turn down heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes stirring once halfway through cooking. Give it a final stir before transferring to a glass dish while still warm and easy to pour. Allow to cool before sealing with a tightly fitting lid and storing in the fridge. It will thicken up a lot as it cools.
- Serving Size: 1/2 cup