This homemade cranberry sauce is a classic accompaniment to your Thanksgiving turkey. Made with organic cranberries and less sugar, it’s a better alternative to store-bought cranberry sauce that is loaded with high fructose corn syrup.
Thanksgiving is officially less than a month away – is it OK to talk about now?
Fun fact – If I were still living in Canada it would be too late to talk about. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the 2nd Monday in October.
Here in Florida we finally had our first few days of cooler temperatures last week. It dropped into the 50s and felt like fall for a few glorious days.
That treat is over for now, but Thanksgiving is coming regardless, so it’s a good time to share my recipe for homemade cranberry sauce!
Cranberry sauce is so easy to whip up; I hope you’ll be inspired to never again buy the high-fructose-corn-syrup-laden jellied cranberry sauce in a can. Bleh… I know, I know, it’s a childhood tradition for me too, but here’s why you should never eat high fructose corn syrup.
My low sugar cranberry sauce recipe uses less sugar and absolutely no artificial sweeteners! When cooking or baking with sugar I always err on the side of as little as possible. Some sugar is necessary in order for the sauce to thicken and to cut some of the bite out of the tart cranberries and I think this sauce strikes a nice balance of not being overly tart or overly sweet.
Why I Make Cranberry Sauce with Organic Cranberries
Cranberries are one of only 3 fruits that are native to North America, but less than 1% of the cranberries grown in the United States are organic.
Cranberries are one of the more difficult crops to maintain without the use of commercial pesticides and fungicides. This is because cranberries grow close to the ground on horizontal vines in damp conditions that bugs and weeds adore. Battling these conditions organically is extra challenging.
This is all the more reason to support the organic cranberry farmers that are doing it.
A 2006 United States Department of Agriculture study found residue from 13 different pesticides on the non-organic cranberries they tested.
A 2015 study found that bee colonies exposed to a popular fungicide used to treat cranberry bogs produced significantly less worker bees (less than a third) and smaller bee colonies than the no-fungicide control group.
How common is it for bees to be exposed to pesticides? Another study found that 100% of the pollen collected by bees that were pollinating cranberry crops, contained pesticide residues. Twenty three different pesticides turned up.
If the bees are getting it, we are getting it.
Where to Buy Organic Cranberries
Some grocery stores, such as Publix, Kroger and Whole Foods, sell fresh organic cranberries from farms here in the United States.
You can also buy them direct from a cranberry farm online. Buying cranberries online does require a bulk purchase, usually at least 5 pounds, but they freeze well. You can then thaw them throughout the year to make cranberry sauce, homemade juices, smoothies and other recipes.
The following farms grow certified organic cranberries that you can use to make homemade cranberry sauce:
James Lake Farms – Wisconsin, I made my cranberry sauce with these
Fresh Meadow Cranberries – Massachusetts
Ruesch Century Farm – Wisconsin
When Are Cranberries in Season?
Cranberries are harvested between September and October and the window of opportunity to find fresh cranberries in the store or online is narrow. Outside of this time of year you’ll be lucky to find them in the frozen section. So be sure to stock up if you’d like to use them in your cooking year round.
5 Ways to Use Low Sugar Cranberry Sauce
Homemade cranberry sauce does pair incredibly well with turkey, but it isn’t just a Thanksgiving side dish. Here are 5 ways to use cranberry sauce:
- Serve on a cheese and charcuterie board
- Spread on toast as a jam
- Enjoy with some goat or cream cheese on crackers
- Use it as a topping for cheese cake
- Make a sandwich with roasted turkey or chicken and spread on the cranberry sauce
In Case You Were Wondering…
Can you use frozen cranberries to make cranberry sauce?
Yes you can use frozen cranberries to make cranberry sauce, just be sure to fully thaw them first.
Is this homemade cranberry sauce tart or sweet?
Admittedly, my cranberry sauce recipe is more tart than the canned cranberry jelly you may be used to. That’s partly because the store-bought cranberry jelly is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, which is sweeter than sugar. It’s also because the store bought varieties use more sweetener.
Other cranberry sauce recipes use nearly double the sugar that I do. Some sugar is necessary in order for the sauce to thicken and to cut some of the bite out of the tart cranberries. But, I veer on the side of less sugar in my cooking, and think this homemade cranberry sauce strikes a nice balance of not being overly tart or overly sweet.
If you prefer a sweeter cranberry sauce, feel free to use 1/2 or 2/3 cup of sugar. Also up the orange juice to a full half cup to keep the sauce from getting too thick.
How to Make Low Sugar Cranberry Sauce
This is the fun part, cranberry sauce is so easy to make.
1. Combine the cranberries, sugar, ground cinnamon, salt and orange juice in a medium pot.
2. Stir gently and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
3. Once the ingredients start to simmer, cook about 15 minutes. Maintain a gentle simmer and stir often.
4. Remove from heat when most of the cranberries have popped and the mixture is thick.
The cranberry sauce will continue to thicken while it sits. Once cool, I put it in a glass jar with a tight lid in my fridge. It will keep for at least several weeks.
Have any questions I haven’t answered? Post a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer. And if you make this cranberry sauce please do post a review!
Low Sugar Cranberry Sauce
- 8 oz organic cranberries fresh or thawed
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbs sugar
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbs orange juice no sugar added
- Rinse the cranberries under cold running water and remove any that have started to brown or go soft.
- Put the cranberries in a medium size pot and add in the sugar, cinnamon, salt and orange juice.
- Stir gently and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Once the ingredients start to simmer, cook about 15 minutes, stirring often. Reduce the heat if needed to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Remove from heat when most of the cranberries have popped and the cranberry sauce is thick. This takes about 15 minutes of simmering.
- Let cool, then transfer to a glass jar and store in the fridge.
- This recipes yields enough for 6 people to have a large spoonful or two with their turkey dinner. All quantities can be doubled or tripled if needed to serve a larger crowd.
- Be sure to use orange juice with no added sugar. I look for it in the single serve section of the grocery store. Or, you can put a large, peeled orange through a juicer.
I tried this receipt for our Christmas dinner. I thought it would be difficult to make, but it turned out very delicious, even the kids are liking it! The less sugar part brings citra part of the cranberry’s natural taste, but still sweet enough without any tartness. Will recommend to my friends, and can’t wait to make it again.
Sara @ Fed by the Farm
I love hearing that your kids liked this cranberry sauce, kids can be picky eaters! Sounds like yours have great taste. 🙂 Thank you for recommending!