Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cranberry sauce with orange and apple

I just enjoyed the first of our “thanksgiving dinners.” Since my son, his girlfriend and my mom are all going to be out of town on the actual holiday, we shared a little meal together tonight. Happily, my son’s girlfriend is a vegetarian so we skipped the turkey and had all the good stuff- the side dishes- Yum! I so love the dishes I make for thanksgiving so it is nice to break it up like this and have a few options to enjoy rather than over eat for one meal and regretting it!

 Tomorrow, I am bringing food to our church for a thanksgiving lunch. Thursday, we will have a few friends and acquaintances join us. Friday, we are gathering with a few other families to share another meal. Oh dear, I think it is time to renew my gym membership!

 It is a good thing that not all of the dishes I make are loaded with fats,  butter and calories.  This recipe does have a lot of sugar but since it is meant to be eaten in small servings I think we don’t have to worry unless you have a problem with sugar. If you do have someone who cannot have sugar at your thanksgiving meal, perhaps you could try this with just apples, oranges, and toasted nuts but skip the cranberries, lemon, orange zest and sugar.

Like many in my generation, I grew up with cranberry sauce shaped like a can. I thought I liked cranberry sauce…but I had no idea what a delectable treat it could be. Now I wait eagerly for fresh cranberries to appear in our local market. I even freeze some so I can continue to make this long after the holidays. Yes, it is that good! And for my non- thanksgiving celebrating readers, it is not just for the holidays. If you can find cranberries wherever you are, you should try this as a refreshing side for dinners or desserts. Do they have cranberries in the UK or Europe? I am assuming readers in Indonesia or Sri lanka may have some trouble finding them.

I began creating more and more Thanksgiving recipes especially since I started catering a Thanksgiving meal for about 250 every year a couple decades ago. I had lots of help for this meal and it was served in a large venue with a great kitchen on the Sunday before thanksgiving and no, I don’t do this anymore --whew! This is one of the things that really launched both my catering career and my teaching classes in cooking. People seemed to like the dishes I prepared for this meal and soon I had waiting lists of people wanting to take classes or get their event catered. It was pretty fun for a while.

During this same time, I began hosting Thanksgiving at our home for the first time with  extended family and friends, so I cooked another big meal a few days later. I really loved being able to make things the way I liked them for thanksgiving.  For the most part, my family enjoyed my cooking but one thing that some relatives insisted on was cranberry sauce from a can. So they did not get to enjoy this delicious home-made version for several years until some friends insisted on it for turkey day too. Once my relatives tasted this, they liked it so much they began to make it at home too. So if your guests think they prefer canned sauce, you may surprise them with this version!

Cranberry sauce with orange and apple

One bag of fresh cranberries, washed and sorted

1-1 ½ cup sugar, may use  more or less as needed (white or brown or even some agave or honey with the sugar)

½ cup orange juice, bottled or fresh, more if needed

½ cup apple juice, more if needed

Cinnamon stick

1 orange

1 apple, granny smith preferred

1 tsp. Lemon juice or 2 tsp finely grated lemon  zest ( yellow part of peel) optional

¼- ½ tsp. of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp cardamom, optional

½ tsp. vanilla or orange extract, optional

2/3 cup walnuts or pecans, optional

Put clean cranberries, sugar, juices and cinnamon stick in large pot and let simmer for 10 minutes.  

Heat oven to 350 and roast nuts( if using)  for 8 minutes or until brown.

Clean and zest orange( grate off outer colored peel) and add the zest to pan. Remove rest of orange skin and discard. If you want less orange flavor or less work, skip the zesting and just peel orange. Cut up peeled orange into little bitty pieces and add it to pan. ( you could use food processor.)
Peel and finely dice apple and add to pan. (Again you can use food processor just don’t over chop, leave it in fine dice.) Add lemon juice and extract, cinnamon. After a few minutes taste to see if you want to add more sugar.
Cook over medium- low heat until cranberries have popped and sauce is thickened-about an hour to an hour and a half until nicely melded and very thick. You may leave it on low for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Refrigerate several hours. This will keep for several days and you can make ahead a day or even two before.

Serve with roasted nuts to garnish.
Note:  You can make this with Ginger--you could add 2 tsp grated fresh ginger or, my favorite, a few hunks of candied ginger chopped as finely as you can.
You could also try this with orange marmalade, Reduce sugar to 2/3 cup and add ½-2/3 cup good orange marmalade.

  Recipe by Denise Birdsall, 1996 


  1. Hi Denise, I'm from the UK and have been making cranberry sauce for our christmas turkey for a few years, but have only ever used cranberries, port and orange zest. Your recipe looks so much better - I will have to try this. Thanks for posting this recipe.

  2. Oh good. Not sure where all they sell cranberries. I have never used port in mine tho that could be a nice addition to this recipe too as I sometimes put a splach of orange liquor or grand marnier in mine.

  3. Denise...what a fabulous cranberry sauce. Love the orange and apples and I would definitely add some nuts for a little texture. I am like you. My past cranberry sauce was a slice out of a can. Looking forward to trying your recipe! : )

  4. I've heard of cranberry sauce with orange but not with apples too. Great fall flavors!

  5. It sounds like you have a wonderfully filled Thanksgiving holiday season! This cranberry sauce looks wonderful, I am also quite used to the can-shaped cranberry so this it such a happy surprise :)

  6. This cranberry sauce looks amazing. I love the flavors you have here. :)

  7. Hi, thanks for your comment on Foodbuzz. What a wonderful cranberry sauce, Denise!! I loved the recipe. I am bookmarking it to make this in future. I like it as an accompaniment with cheese or topped on my b'bq pork!! Great blog!! I hope you'll like mine too!

  8. Great concept, will try it with the Christmas Turkey I think.. :)