Growing up I was never a big fan of cranberry sauce – that jellied stuff from a can just didn’t do anything for me. Then, probably 20 years ago now, I saw a tv chef promoting a way of cooking that used only fresh ingredients instead of processed foods. That was years and years before I ever heard about Weston A. Price or the traditional foods movement. Watching this woman demonstrate several holiday dishes using mostly real, fresh ingredients I knew they just had to taste great. I grabbed pencil and paper and wrote down the recipe, bought the ingredients and gave it a try. For the first time in my life I was able to really enjoy cranberry sauce!
About seven years ago, when I learned about unrefined sweeteners, I changed up the cranberry sauce to make it totally fresh and unrefined by ditching the white sugar. I make mine this way now exclusively. Here I offer a choice of either sucanat or honey as a sweetener. If you choose the honey be sure to use a mild, light colored honey rather than an assertive one. Orange blossom or clover would be a good choice. Sucanat is stronger flavored with a hint of molasses. Another option might be coconut sugar. Just don’t use agave as that one is highly refined. This recipe can be made up to two days ahead and stored in a glass or other non-reactive container in the refrigerator.
Fresh Cranberry Sauce
1 package fresh cranberries, organic if you can find them (12 oz.)
1 large orange, organic if possible
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup honey OR sucanat (plus a little more to taste)
Wash the cranberries and pick out any shriveled or rotten ones. Place the berries in a medium saucepan.
Wash the orange, scrubbing the peel well. Use a microplane grater or a citrus zester or a vegetable peeler and zest about a tablespoon of orange zest. (The zest is the colored portion of the citrus peel.) Add the zest to the cranberries. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into a bowl or measuring cup. You need about a 1/2 cup of liquid so if your orange isn’t very juicey you can add a little water to make up the difference. Room temperature fruit gives more juice than straight-from-the-refrigerator fruit.
Place the orange juice and the ginger and cinnamon into the saucepan. Stir in the honey or sucanat and place the saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. When it comes to a boil turn the heat down a bit to a simmer and allow the berries to simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. At about halfway through the cooking time taste the sauce. If it is not sweet enough for your taste you can add a little more sweetener – probably up to 1/4 cup more if desired.
Continue to simmer and stir while the berries pop and the mixture cooks. Remove from heat after ten minutes total cooking time and allow the sauce to cool somewhat. Mixture will thicken as it cools. At this point you can pour it into a serving bowl or into another container to chill.