Tuesday Dec 02, 2008

Advice for the holidays

Many people are still ruining the holiday season by serving their family and friends the dreaded cranberry cylinder:

loathsome canned cranberry sauce

This holiday disaster can be averted by preparing your own much tastier cranberry sauce from scratch.

Simple Cranberry Sauce Recipe
1lb/500g bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
1.5 cups of orange juice (approx).
1.5 cups of red port wine (approx).
dash of salt
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup of sugar (approx./to taste)
zest of one orange or lemon (optional)

Ingredient notes

If cranberries are fresh then put them in the freezer overnight. Freezing
breaks the cell walls and they cook more quickly. I used to buy fresh 
berries but now just buy frozen if they are available. Unless the berries
are really old and have "freezer funk" you won't be able to tell the
difference.

I use frozen or "from concentrate" orange juice. Fresh orange juice is 
wasted on this recipe. 

You must use a very cheap port for this recipe. If it doesn't have a screw 
cap, you're doing it wrong! Cheap port has the right mix of acidity, sugar
and grapeiness to balance it's otherwise awful taste. The subtle, refined 
good taste of fine port can't stand up to the rest of the flavours in this
recipe. You must use wino port.

The cranberries, juice and port all have varying amounts of sugar so you 
have to adjust the sugar to your taste. As the sauce cools it will taste 
less sweet. 

Directions

Put frozen berries into a bowl of water big enough so that they float. Pick
out anything you wouldn't want to eat. This includes green berries, moldy 
berries, dry shrivelled berries, leaves, sticks, dirt, etc. 

Transfer cleaned berries to a small pot. The pot should be about half full 
with the berries in it. Add orange juice and port in equal measure until
some of the berries just begin to float. Add the cinnamon stick, salt and 
optional citrus zest.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 2 
hours stirring every half hour. When most of the berries have lost their 
shape the sauce is done cooking. Turn off the heat and allow sauce to cool 
for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken and gel as it cools.

Stir in the sugar a couple of tablespoons at a time tasting after each 
addition to see if the sauce is sweet enough. Sauce can be served warm or
can be chilled before serving in the refrigerator. 
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mduigou

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