Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Making of Cranberry Sauce....(in pictures)

Did you stock up on cranberries in October?  Did you toss them in your freezer with big plans for using them in muffins and breads and salad fluffs?  Are they still there?  Right where they landed?

Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Since we grow cranberries, my idea of stocking up means 225 pounds of cranberries fill my freezer(s).  It was time to use some up, so I pulled out the stockpot and Back to Basics Strainer and Berry Screen.  Time to make some cranberry sauce.  I like making a large batch of cranberry sauce.  One, because we like it.  Two, because there's a lot of us.  Three, because I don't like washing the food strainer very often. 

 Here's what I do:

Bring 8 cups water and almost 8 cups sugar to a hard boil over high heat.  Boil for 5 minutes.  Now, I understand that 8 cups of sugar is A LOT, however, when it comes to fruit gelling, sugar is a necessary component.  If you do want to cut back on the sugar, do so in 1/4 cup increments and expect your sauce to be softer set.  

As the sugar solution is boiling, measure out 16 FULL cups of cranberries.  I always use frozen fruit.

Add cranberries to sugar water.

Stir in the fruit with a wooden spoon.  The frozen cranberries will be coated in sugar water and be very shiny and beautiful.  Return to boil.  Reduce heat to a slow boil and cook for 15-20 minutes.  

 The berries should pop (skins are split) and the mixture should be slightly thickened.  It will also look frothy.  This is completely normal.  I don't bother with skimming this off, even though many recipes call for it.  Stir once every 5 minutes or so.

While the cranberries are cooking, set up the strainer.  If you don't want to invest in a food strainer, a mesh strainer and wooden spoon work well, albeit much slower, but less to wash up in the end.  I'm able to fit half of the sauce in the hopper at a time.  Strain into large bowl.

Repeat with remaining sauce.  Stir well to combine liquid and pulp.

 Pour prepared sauce into wide mouth canning jars.  

Place lids and rings on jars.  Place in rack.  Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.  The cranberry sauce is now shelf stable and can be stored in a cool, dry location for up to 1 year (or more).  Or, even easier is to just store jars in your refrigerator.  This will stay fresh just as long as any jelly. I'm guessing 3-4 months.

There's always a little sauce that can be scraped from the bowl.  Don't waste this warm, sweet, yet tart, goodness.  Spread it on a slice of buttered bread and enjoy.  I had freshly made poppyseed egg bread on the counter.  Yum!

My sauce if fully gelled by the next morning.  Ready to enjoy!

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