Before my mother learned to make her famous Baked Cranberries, our Thanksgiving cranberry sauce always came from a can. There were two kinds at the table: whole berry sauce for the grownups and the shivery, quivery jellied stuff for the kids.
At some point I tried my hand at homemade jellied cranberry sauce and yes, it is still shivery and quivery (but not so much as the canned kind). I made it in a can too, as a joke, so it could have those can-stripe-indentations.
But no one was fooled after taking a taste. They knew it hadn’t come from a can because I had spiked it with orange brandy.
I’ve made several versions of this recipe by now, sometimes with ginger brandy instead of orange, sometimes using juice or cider plus water instead of all water; sometimes mixing in bits of crystallized ginger to give it some extra texture.
But this is the basic version. I make it in a ring mold because I usually don’t have empty cans in the house.
Jellied Cranberry Sauce
4 cups fresh cranberries (one pound)
1-2/3 cups water, approximately
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, ginger brandy or other flavored liqueur
1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger, currants, raisins, etc., optional
Wash the berries and remove any stems that remain. Drain the berries and place them in a saucepan. Add the water, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 4-5 minutes until the berries pop open. Crush the berries with a hand blender or in a food processor, then place them in a strainer over a bowl and press down to extract as much liquid as possible. There should be 2-1/4 cups. If not, add some water, juice or cider. Place the liquid in a saucepan, stir in the sugar and bring the liquid to a boil. Cook until the mixture reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer or until it is rich looking and dark and can form a gel when you place a drop in cold water. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the brandy and optional ingredients, if used. Pour into clean cans (best to use #2 cans, about 15-16 ounce size). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To umold, use the tip of a sharp knife around the edges, invert the can over a plate and shake it out. Makes 8 servings