November 16, 2013

Spicy Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce #homemade

When our group was compiling a list of holiday fare to bring to Thanksgiving this year, I was commissioned by many to make my homemade cranberry sauce.  So superior to the can and surprisingly quick and easy!  I'm re-posting an updated version in honor of Thanksgiving 2013 and this wonderful food holiday that I love so much.  

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup  water
  • 4 cups (2 12-oz packages) of fresh  cranberries, rinsed and picked through
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced (about 1/2 cup oj)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
In a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve completely

Add cranberries and cinnamon, return to a boil

Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes .  You will hear the berries popping open.  Cover with a lid to avoid spraying berry juice.

Turn off the heat and add the orange juice, nutmeg, and ginger.  Remove cinnamon sticks.  

Cool completely at room temperature and then chill in refrigerator. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cool.

Garnish with orange zest and serve

Native Americans originally called cranberries “atoca” or “sassamanash” and  enjoyed them cooked and sweetened with honey or maple syrup.  The Pilgrims learned this recipe from these friends which was very likely included in the early New England Thanksgiving feasts and welcomed by starving settlers.  By the beginning of the 18th century, these tart red berries were already being exported to England by the colonists.  Cranberries were used by Native Americans decoratively as a source of red dye, and medicinally as a poultice for wounds as the astringent tannins contract body tissue and help stop bleeding.  Compounds in cranberries have antibiotic effects and their high vitamin C content is good for collagen production and skin health.  Enjoy about 15 mg in 1 cup of cranberries!

In 1840, Massachusets  Revolutionary War Vet Henry Hall noticed cranberries grew well when sand was swept into his bog by the local winds and tides.  A sandy bog provides the perfect  growing conditions for the cranberries by limiting the growth of weeds and enhancing that of the deep rooted cranberries.  Because cranberries are exposed to so much more sunlight in these growing conditions, it increases their antioxidant capacity making them one of the most concentrated sources of “polyphenols” around.  You can always tell a fruit has this type of bioactive compound/antioxidant by the intense color (acai berry, blueberry, grape).  Cranberries have high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, and mineral manganese.  Today, cranberries are a major crop in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin as well as many provinces in Canada.

*information adapted from 

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