A secret ingredient takes my homemade whole berry cranberry sauce to delicious new heights. This is a must try this Thanksgiving Day.
Homemade cranberry sauce is one of the easiest dishes to make. And what a huge difference there is in the quality of homemade over the canned variety. But despite this fact, there are a few members of my family (who will remain nameless) who must have their canned, jellied cranberry sauce. If you were to join us for Thanksgiving, you would be welcomed with a smorgasbord of cranberries: homemade whole berry, canned whole berry, and canned jellied.
With that I believe we have everyone covered!
The Secret to Amazing Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
Homemade cranberry sauce is made from three simple ingredients: whole cranberries, sugar, and cooking liquid. Personally, I prefer to use fresh cranberries, but you can certainly opt to use frozen instead.
The real secret to amazing homemade cranberry sauce is the cooking liquid. Most traditional recipes simply call for water. The problem with water is that it fails to impart any flavor to the dish. I have always opted to use a cooking liquid that would add to the flavor profile. I typically use 100% cranberry juice. Even with that there are so many options: cranberry grape, cranberry cherry, cranberry raspberry…..all such good options.
Another reason that I love to use 100% juice is that the natural sweetness of the juice allows me to reduce the amount of added sugar to the dish. Most recipes for homemade cranberry sauce call for copious amounts of sugar.
Lemonade & Cranberries = Amazing!
This year I knew that I wanted to tweak my cranberry sauce recipe. My brainstorming session began in the juice aisle of my local grocery store. I selected a few new juice combinations, but was longing for something different. As I was slowly scanning the shelves, my eye stopped at one of my family’s favorite drinks: Cherry Lemonade. I very rarely purchase juice or bottled drinks. We basically drink water all the time. But, for special occasions, I pick up Santa Cruz’s Cherry Lemonade. It’s organic, bottled in glass, and the taste is subtle and not overly sweet. That’s just my honest opinion (no sponsored post here).
So, I grabbed a bottle and got to work. After explaining to the kids that they couldn’t drink the lemonade (oh the struggles of having a blogging mom), I got to work.
I began by putting 1 cup of Cherry Lemonade into a pan. I stirred in 1/2 cup of sugar and brought the combo to a simmer. Be sure to stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add in a 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Stir then cover. Cook for 7-9 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, uncover the pot and stir.
When the cooking time is done you will notice that the whole berries have broken down (but some may still remain). Stir the sauce once more and transfer to a heat proof container. Leave the container uncovered for 30 minutes.
After the initial cooling time, cover the container and place in the refrigerator to cool completely. This will allow the sauce to set.
Allow the cranberry sauce to chill for at least 4 hours.
Well, who would have known, but cranberries and cherry lemonade are pretty much made for each other. The resulting cranberry sauce had just the right amount of sweetness and a subtle hint of “something something” as I call it. There was no pronounced lemon flavor, but the the cherry lemonade most definitely imparted great flavor.
So today was a good day in my house. We had an amazing cranberry sauce with our dinner, and there was left over lemonade as well. Smiles all around!
Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
- 1 cup Cherry Lemonade ( I used Santa Cruz)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 12 oz. fresh, whole cranberries
- Put 1 cup of Cherry Lemonade into a pan. Stir in 1/2 cup of sugar and bring the combo to a simmer. Be sure to stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Add in a 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Stir then cover.
- Cook for 7-9 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, uncover the pot and stir
- When the cooking time is done you will notice that the whole berries have broken down (but some may still remain). Stir the sauce once more and transfer to a heat proof container. Leave the container uncovered for 30 minutes
- After the initial cooling time, cover the container and place in the refrigerator to cool completely. This will allow the sauce to set.
- Allow the cranberry sauce to chill for at least 4 hours.
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