Thanksgiving Condiments: Cranberries Complete the Meal

By: Anne Hynes

The Thanksgiving meal would not be complete without cranberries! Their tart fruity flavour adds much needed acidity that cuts the richness of turkey, stuffing and gravy. It also adds a festive touch with its lovely jewel tone colour. Cranberries are native to North America and were introduced to European settlers by First Nations Peoples who knew of their value as both a food source and a medicine. They were an important vitamin resource for early settlers as they are packed with vitamin C. According to The Joy of Cooking, cranberries retain their nutrition even after being stored for a year or more, which is a great reason to make a large batch and can it in a water bath to have on hand for other meals.

Making cranberry sauce or jelly is easy. If you want to make a sauce, the fruit is cooked with water and sugar until the berries burst and the right consistency is achieved. To make a jelly, the cooked berries are strained before the sugar is added. (Cranberries contain their own pectin, so there is no need to add Certo in order for it to gel.) When the mixture is still hot it can be poured into a mould which is a visually fun addition to a Thanksgiving feast!

Cranberry sauce or jelly is a great condiment to have on hand. It goes well with roast meats like chicken, pork or duck, makes a great addition to sandwiches and can even be served with cheese on a charcuterie platter. Don’t have time to make your own? You can pick up a jar of sauce or jelly at the store – while supplies last!

Cranberry Sauce

1 lb cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 cups water
1 ½ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
Zest of one small orange (optional)

In a saucepan combine cranberries, water, sugar, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until berries burst.

Remove lid and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes or until sauce has thickened.

Turn off heat, add orange zest.

If using a mould, rinse with cold water and fill while sauce is hot. Let cool completely.

Makes approximately 4 cups.

Cranberry sauce or jelly is best made the day before you plan to serve it.