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I Just Made Cranberry Sauce, and the ROI Was HUGE

November 20, 2011

ROI, for those not as acutely in tune with the business world as I am, means return on investment.

This afternoon I invested 15 minutes and a pint of cranberries and a few other things I had around the house and I made a batch of what seems to me to be the best cranberry sauce ever.

I now plan to spend most of my forties, which will begin tomorrow, making cranberry sauce.

(To be truthful: since I started this post I also fixed our toilet, just like that, and so now I plan to spend my 40’s making cranberry sauce and plumbing. It’s good to always be learning new skills.)

We are not hosting Thanksgiving this year, as we had initially planned to do. But today I was shopping for a chicken to roast for a cozy Sunday night dinner, the last of my 30’s, and all of these cranberries kept catching my eye, in display after display after display. So I grabbed a pint and brought them home.

My only cranberry sauce-making experience was with my parents a long time ago, when they made a cranberry onion relish, which I now realize was something like a chutney, but at the time it really made me want to die. Cranberries? Onions? Together? Absolute sacrilege. It may have been an elegant nod to another culture, if what you were in possession of was an open-minded adult palate, but that is not what I had. I remember a very foreign combination of bitter — cranberry — and pungency — onions that had been cooked less than most onions I’d ever encountered. I recall pink bleeding into the cells of the onion, staining it in what I considered to be a criminal manner. I remember wishing we didn’t have to eat it.

Cranberry sauce and I have always been friends, but it’s been the canned sort: sometimes even the jelled sort with the rings still present. Still, at this stage I’m happy to toss together a chutney out of things we have on hand, so I figured that I could probably make a cranberry sauce out of things I had on hand.

I searched around for various recipes and came up with something I thought would work, though I didn’t have orange juice, and that was the main binding ingredient aside from cranberries.

At home later today, I rinsed the cranberries and put them into a saucepan. I added some white sugar — about 2.5T — and some brown sugar, about a third of a cup. I cut open an orange and grated in a little zest, and then squeezed in the juice. I added the juice from half of a lemon. I poured in an ounce of golden rum, set the heat to medium high, and over the course of 15 minutes I listened to the pop pop pop of taut lovely skins as the separate ingredients first turned themselves into a mixture, and then turned itself into candy.

I highly recommend trying. This is a link to the delicious recipe that inspired it, from a site called Savory Sweet Life, with slightly larger quantities. (It would be better to make more for entertaining purposes later in the week; we nearly finished this.)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Dad permalink
    November 21, 2011 4:36 pm

    Dear Church Chomp,
    In defense of your family’s attempt to expose you to all things good and interesting your family did indeed feed you a cranberry creation borrowed from NPR’s Susan Stamberg of “All Things Considered”. She called it Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish and over the years has repeated the recipe on the air prior to each Thanksgiving. Many of her listeners wrote to complain and although we did not write we did find the concoction most unpalatable. Research has found that the original recipe was developed in 1959 by Craig Claiborne and published in the New York Times. While its pedigree is beyond reproach we found the resulting product to be most distasteful. The complete recipe follows.
    Your loving father.

    Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish

    This relish has a tangy taste that cuts through and perks up the turkey and gravy. It’s also good on next-day turkey sandwiches and with roast beef.


    * 2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed

    * 1 small onion

    * 3/4 cup sour cream

    * 1/2 cup sugar

    * 2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar (“red is a bit milder than white”)


    Grind the raw berries and onion together. (“I use an old-fashioned meat grinder,” Stamberg says. “I’m sure there’s a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind, not a puree.”)

    Add everything else and mix.

    Put in a plastic container and freeze.

    Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. (“It should still have some little icy slivers left.”)

    The relish will be thick, creamy and shocking pink. (“OK, Pepto Bismol pink.”)

    Makes 1 1/2 pints.

  2. Alana permalink
    November 21, 2011 7:46 pm

    I could ONLY eat cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving. In my single days, I used to buy the jellied kind and Stove Top Stuffing on very non-Thanksgiving days and that would be my dinner. Your recipe sounds delish and a reason to buy rum, which I never, ever do. Fun!

  3. November 22, 2011 6:06 pm

    I ONLY eat the jellied kind with rings present. I’ve tried other kinds. I don’t like them.

  4. Heather permalink
    November 21, 2012 6:58 am

    And now, a year later, on your birthday(!!!), I am going to make this! (you know, approximately) The only sticking point is that I apparently didn’t manage to bring home the cranberries I thought I was purchasing at the store the other day.

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