Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is supposed to be a cylinder that quivers like jello and has ring indentations from the can. Isn’t it?

That was the standard when I was growing up anyway. But during the years that followed I learned to make cranberry sauce from scratch and concocted or discovered zillions of good recipes, all of the lumpy variety.

One day I decided to cook a homemade version of that jellied, canned looking kind, just for fun.

I served it at Thanksgiving dinner and everyone was a little puzzled because it looked somewhat darker than the usual. Then they dug in and that was the real surprise. I had slipped some brandy into the mix so it didn’t taste a thing like the supermarket variety. And the texture set it apart too. It was smooth, dense, lush.

Here’s the recipe I used. I experimented with it many times after that, sometimes changing the brandy, sometimes adding little tidbits like chopped raisins, currants or crystallized ginger. Everyone is always pleased no matter which version they get. You can make it without the brandy of course, just add a bit more water and, if you like, some flavorful extract (orange, mint, almond).

Jellied Cranberry Sauce

4 cups fresh cranberries (one pound)

1-2/3 cups water

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. 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