At our house, no holiday spread is complete without a dish of cranberry sauce. Next to buttery heaps of potatoes, earthy green beans and cheerful orange squash dishes, there is something about the deep red of cranberries that is both alluring and dramatic. I love the complex tart flavor that the sauce lends to the meal too; especially when it mingles with the gravy and makes its way into almost every bite on the plate. This simple cranberry sauce variation uses the natural sweetness of pears and honey to replace the refined sugars found in most other recipes.
Before we get to the recipe, I want to recognize that there is certainly something attractive about serving pre-made cranberry sauce from a can. It's super convenient. It's one last thing to throw together at the last-minute while your hungry guests are looking on. It's loaded with sugar which, let's face it, tastes pretty good. Plus, especially for kids, that jiggly JELLO-like texture can definitely be entertaining.
However, there are also many reasons to opt for homemade cranberry sauce instead. For starters, did you know that the largest cranberry sauce manufacturer in the country gave lots of money to defeat the labeling of GMOs? That's because cranberry products are more often than not sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, which is produced using genetically modified corn. High fructose corn syrup is a synthetic, man-made substance and is considered the worst kind of sugar for your health.
When you make cranberry sauce yourself, you have direct control over the sourcing of the ingredients. If possible, pick up organic berries that are free from pesticide residues. Select whole food sweeteners that offer balanced nutrient profiles in addition to great taste. Most of all, enjoy the process of working with beautiful whole ingredients from nature...not ones that were created in a lab.
Tips for Making the Perfect Cranberry Sauce
Making cranberry sauce at home isn't difficult either. In fact, with a few tricks it is basically foolproof and can be a lot of fun. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Rinse and sort the berries first. Before you start with this or any other cranberry-filled recipe, be sure to rinse and pick through your berries. Discard any that are mushy, shriveled or discolored as they usually have a strong bitterness to them. Remove stems if you find any stragglers.
If it seems too thick, add more liquid. Everyone has different preferences when it comes to the sauciness of their cranberries. Cranberry sauce will naturally thicken as it cools, so if things get too sticky for your liking just add another splash of liquid and mash again. Alternatively, if you add too much water a bit of gelatin or arrowroot powder can help to thicken things up in a pinch.
Spice it up. Get creative! In this recipe I use just a pinch of cinnamon to add some interest to the sauce, but the possibilities are endless. Try a bit of zest from a lemon or orange. Alternatively try a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger for digestive benefits!
Make the sauce ahead if you can. One of the best things about cranberry sauce is that it can be made a few days prior to your big meal and stored in the refrigerator. In fact, if you can time things ahead like this, I would highly recommend it. There is something so blissful about the ease of pouring homemade cranberry sauce from a mason jar into a pretty dish on the day of your event. It's like a bit of holiday magic...
Elegant Honey & Pear Cranberry Sauce
By Kayla- Radiant Life
12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries
2 pears, peeled, cored and diced into small cubes
1/2 cup honey
1 cup filtered water
Pinch of cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduced heat and simmer until cranberries have popped and pears are tender. Take a fork and lightly mash the pears. Remove from heat and store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Easy as that!