Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Homemade Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving Dinner

I'm one of those people who think that Thanksgiving dinner isn't complete without the cranberry sauce.  It seems that only a few of the members of our family feel this way, so usually I get plenty of it.  I put some on my turkey, next to my dressing, and often inside my dinner roll.

My family always has homemade cranberry sauce for our Thanksgiving Dinner, and we always use my great-grandma Ruth's recipe.  She has been gone for nearly thirty years, but she was a remarkable cook whose skills are still legendary in our family.  You can find her recipe for apple pie here, and her recipe for strawberry preserves is here.  Actually, making the cranberry sauce reminds me a lot of making the strawberry preserves, except that these cranberries are tart in spite of having two cups of sugar on them.

First, wash a 12-ounce package of cranberries.  Put them in a saucepan with two cups of water and bring them to a boil over the hottest part of the stove.  I find that this part goes faster if they are covered.

The cranberries and water beginning to cook directly over the fire.

Boil the cranberries and water together until the cranberries split open.  You can actually hear them pop, which makes this part kind of fun.

The cranberries had to be moved away from the fire after a while
(along with the soup kettle), which worked out well because
Nancy was frying bacon for the potato soup.

Run the cooked cranberries through a Foley food mill or press through a sieve.

Running the cooked cranberries through the Foley.

Add two cups of sugar to the strained cranberries and return all to a hot fire in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Bring the sugar and cranberry mixture to a boil, and let it boil until it looks glassy and coats a spoon. Stir occasionally to make sure that it is not scorching.  I also skimmed the foam from the top like I would when making jelly.

Cranberry, water, and sugar mixture boiling on the Margin Gem.

Pour cooked mixture into a glass dish (one that will be able to withstand the extreme heat of the sugary mixture) and refrigerate--without touching or jostling it at all--for twenty-four hours.  The mixture should set up fairly firmly.  If it doesn't gel, it wasn't cooked long enough or it was disturbed during the cooling period.  Don't despair, however, because it will taste just as good; it just will run all over your plate.

The finished cranberry sauce ready to be

Side note: This recipe, of course, still leaves the tiny cranberry seeds in the sauce, so this would not work for diverticulitis sufferers.

This can be made quite a few days ahead of Thanksgiving dinner.  It will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator (it is really jelly after all), and getting it finished early takes one more job away from the long list of cooking for the holiday.  Simple and delicious.


  1. We have a wood stove at our ranch house...I am going to try this recipe for Christmas! Thank you for sharing!!! Just found this blog not too long ago and am loving all that you post here!

    1. Welcome to my blog, Lana! Thank you for your kind words. I hope that you continue to enjoy future posts.