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It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
Today: Carey Nershi makes a can of homemade cranberry sauce that has all the Thanksgiving tradition, but none of the store-bought flavor.
My mother makes a killer homemade cranberry sauce. Or so I hear, as I’ve never actually tried it. All those bits of soft-yet-still intact cranberries hold less than zero appeal for me. I once thought this might be a food neurosis I’d outgrow, but after three decades I think it’s safe to say that I am, and always will be, a jelly girl. 100%.
Unfortunately, those store-bought, can-shaped cranberry jellies became equally unappealing to me as I grew older. I’d accepted my fate of jelly-less Thanksgivings, but then Marisa of Food in Jars changed my life a couple years ago when she posted a recipe for a homemade version, set in a tin can.
This recipe is super easy to put together, and the results are far better than anything you’d buy in the store. Cranberries should have enough natural pectin in them to set properly, but I prefer to use a little dry pectin anyhow, as I’ve had a couple jellies that failed to set in the past. I also like to add in warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, but you can leave these out if you’re going for that true from-the-can flavor. Bottom line: Don’t let the jelly lovers in your family settle for store-bought any longer. We’re worth it.
Lightly adapted from Marisa McLellan
Makes 1 can
2 1/2 cups cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup apple cider
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons dry pectin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
Place cranberries in a medium saucepan. Mix pectin and spices into the sugar, then add the sugar mixture to the cranberries and stir to combine. Add the cider and lemon juice.
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring regularly. Once the cranberries have burst and the sauce has thickened, remove the pan from the heat. (If the sauce seems too thick, just add a splash of water or cider to thin it out.)
Run the sauce through a fine sieve or food mill until all that’s left are the bits of seeds and skins. Pour the strained sauce into a can. (It’s best to use a can that’s BPA-free and once held a neutral-tasting food, to avoid any unwanted flavors.) Cover can with foil or plastic wrap and let set in the fridge, for at least 12 hours.
When it’s time to serve, run a butter knife around the sides of the jelly. If it still doesn’t seem to want to slide out, crack open the bottom of the can with a can opener. No need to try taking the bottom off -- just a little bit of air should take care of the vacuum and let the jelly slide out easily.
Photos by Carey Nershi