Healthy Northwest Holidays: DIY Cranberry Sauce Recipe Ideas

Healthy Recipes Monday, November 17, 2014 Written by

Cranberry sauce is a staple at the Thanksgiving table. But did you know that just one-third of a cup of the classic canned variety has more sugar than an entire can of soda?

Fortunately, making cranberry sauce from scratch couldn’t be easier. And without all that extra sugar, cranberries can be one of the healthiest foods on your holiday table. They’re packed with powerful, disease-fighting phytonutrients, and they outrank almost every fruit and vegetable in antioxidant concentration.

Cranberries thrive in the cool, wet climate along the Washington and Oregon coast, and fall is the ideal time to stock up on these tart little berries. Local farms, including Vincent Family Cranberries in Oregon and Starvation Alley Farms in Washington, are bringing their freshly harvested berries to farmers markets across the Northwest. Buy some for your holiday table, and stock up to make into delicious treats later this winter. Cranberries freeze well, and you drop them frozen right into a simmering sauce, baked-good recipe, pancake batter or smoothie blend.

To make the most of this fall superfood, here are a few DIY cranberry sauce recipes to add to your holiday spread.

Recipe: Classic Cranberry Sauce

DIY cranberry sauceA healthy variation of the recipe on the back of the cranberry bag, this sauce cuts the sugar but ups the flavor quotient by using fresh orange juice or apple cider in place of water.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar or agave
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice or apple cider (chose one)
  • Optional: If using orange juice, add a few strips of fresh zest as well. If using apple cider, try adding chopped fresh apple.

To make: Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan, bring to a low simmer and cook gently for 10–15 minutes, until the cranberries have burst. Remove and cool completely at room temperature; the sauce will thicken as it cools. Makes 6 servings of 1/3 cups each.

Recipe: Cranberry Sauce with Figs, Rosemary and Port

DIY cranberry sauceWhile this is a delicious addition to your Thanksgiving spread, it also makes an elegant accompaniment to roast pork, seared duck breast or other wild game. You can also use dried cherries, apricots or currants in place of the figs.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup ruby Port
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 8 dried black Mission figs, stemmed, chopped
  • 1 6-inch-long sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

To make: Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Cook gently for 15 minutes, until cranberries burst. Remove rosemary sprig, then let the sauce cool completely to room temperature (it will thicken as it cools). Makes 8 servings of 1/3 cups each.

Recipe: Fresh Cranberry Relish with Orange and Ginger

DIY cranberry sauceThere are many recipes for fresh cranberry relish, but this one uses less sugar and adds an extra kick from the freshly grated ginger (the key is not including the bitter pith of the orange). This sauce is even better the next day.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar or agave
  • 1 orange (we prefer organic)
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

To make: Zest the orange using a citrus zester or microplane. Then peel the zested orange and discard the peel. Combine the orange segments, orange zest, cranberries, sugar and ginger in a food processor. Pulse on and off several times, scraping the edges of the bowl, until all ingredients are well combined. For a smoother sauce, pulse longer. Refrigerate at least one hour, preferably overnight. Makes 8 servings of 1/3 cups each.