Tag Archives: Cranberry

The best cranberry sauce

30 Dec

Cranberry sauce. It’s one of those things that just happens at Christmas. With turkey. And stuffing and all those other bits. It pretty much gets lost in amongst all that other stuff, doesn’t it? And if you bought the sauce from a jar, then that might be just as well. In fact, why did you bother? Was it overly sweet and not terribly tasty? Well, make a decision now that next year you’ll make your own. It really couldn’t be simpler. This sauce recipe is unashamedly inspired by a delicious recipe for Cranberry and Orange Preserve from Thane Prince. I’d made the preserve a week or so before Christmas, and then prettied up all the jars and given them away as presents (except for one, so I’ll have the tastiest yoghurt for breakfast). The Best Cranberry Sauce

  • A bag of fresh cranberries (or go to the freezer and find that bag you froze you last year)… probably around 300g, or thereabouts. Don’t be too precious about exact weights or quantities in this recipe
  • A large orange (or hey, a couple of small ones)
  • Crabbie’s Green Ginger Wine (other makes are available)… if you don’t have any sitting forlornly at the back of your drinks cupboard, then what is wrong with you? Have you never been out for a long cold walk in the winter and been revitalised by a whisky mac on your return? OK, if you have none, buy some soon and you’ll have it for next year, and substitute with some syrup from a jar of crystallised ginger. Have none of that either? Just leave it out, it’ll be fine.
  • Some sugar
  1. Put the cranberries in a heavy-based pan, with a wee slosh of water. And start to warm them on a gentle heat
  2. Pare the skin from the orange with a vegetable peeler and pop in the pan with the cranberries
  3. Juice the orange, and add it to the pan too
  4. Slosh in a splash or two of Crabbie’s Green Ginger
  5. Bring to a gentle boil, adding more water if it seems too dry
  6. After 5-10 minutes (depending how gentle your boil is) the fruit will all have softened a bit. Now add the sugar, probably a tablespoon or two, depending how sweet you like your sauce
  7. Stir the sugar in so it dissolves – you’ll see the sauce change texture to a lovely glossy consistency as the sugar all dissolves into the liquid.
  8. Keep warm till you need it

This was delicious with the traditional Christmas roast, and all the trimmings, and would be equally tasty with almost any roast meat. Its tanginess will cut through any excess of fat that there might be, with roasted potatoes, and roasted veg and all that meat. And any leftovers will be perfect stirred into yoghurt, or made into a festive Eton Mess with meringue and cream. Or warmed on a plain sponge pudding. Or as the jam in a Victoria Sponge, with a sweetened mascarpone cream as well. I’d give you pictures of the sauce in its lovely Christmas-Day-Only silver sauceboats, but I was having too much fun cooking and eating to take any pictures on Christmas Day – sorry.

If you want to see other recipes you’ll find them all listed here. There’s even one for Cranberry Muffins, if you’ve still got some cranberries lurking in the bottom of your fridge. Or if, like me, you can’t resist buying them when they’re in season.

Christmas cheer (in November)

13 Nov

I’ve started.

I didn’t mean to.  I prefer to wait till 20 December for my Christmas preparations, as is traditional in my family.  But there are some things that need time to reach perfection.  And anyway, I enjoy pottering about in the kitchen.

So yesterday I bought some fresh cranberries and a bottle of vodka.  Last time I made cranberry vodka it was far too sweet, but was a perfect late night (after too much wine) shot.  So I’m trying it again.  And plum brandy (if only because I have brandy in the cupboard and our plum harvest in the freezer).

The cranberry vanilla vodka starts with layers of sugary syrup, and lighter alcohol

Cranberry Vanilla Vodka

250g cranberries

1/2 vanilla pod

160g caster sugar

1l vodka

You’ll need a kilner jar, larger than a 1l one.  I think mine is probably 1.5l, but not entirely sure.  Hey, it won’t really matter if your jar is too small, you just won’t be able to fit all the vodka in (so use slightly less fruit and sugar too).

  1. Here’s the slightly laborious bit, although I find it meditatively soothing.  Prick each of the cranberries with a fork, and pop them in the jar.
  2. After you’ve added a cranberry layer, spoon in some of the sugar, then layer with more pricked cranberries and more sugar.  Keep going till you’ve put in all the cranberries and sugar. And I know the pricking seems ridiculous, but really, if you don’t do it the flavour won’t leach out into the vodka so much, and you’ll end up with a disappointing drink, having saved yourself a mere 15 minutes sitting down listening to the radio.
  3. Now using a sharp knife split the vanilla pod lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds into the jar.  Throw the empty pods in too, they still have lots of seeds and flavour left in there.
  4. Pour the vodka in on top of the fruit layers, seal the lid and give it a shoogle.
  5. Leave somewhere out of the way, but easy to hand – so it’s not in your way, but you can give it a wee shoogle every day for the next 3 weeks.
  6. Taste it.  If you’d like it sweeter, then make up some basic sugar syrup, with caster sugar and water, and add it to the jar.  If you like it as is, then bottle it up and put a pretty label on it.
  7. Drink.

Plum brandy

Follow the basic method for Cranberry Vanilla Vodka.  I only had a 1l jar, so I layered plums and soft brown sugar till the jar was about half full.  Then I added a star anise and about 1″ cinnamon stick, followed by some brandy.  We’ll see how it turns out… I suspect I’ll wish I’d put more star anise in it.


Jars of alcoholic tastiness


Next weekend I will probably turn my hand to a Stollen.  I’ve never made one before, but much prefer stollen to heavy fruitcake.  Mind you, I do have a recipe for a Christmas Cake which lasts like a normal cake, but is made of nice light fruit, like apricots instead of all that horrid stuff you usually find in a fruitcake.   

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