I’ve never bought cranberry sauce. The stuff in the can is just weird – like Jell-O for grownups. I live in one of the biggest cranberry-producing states in the country. And it’s way, way too easy to let someone else do it.
Cranberries are culinary wonders – they’re very high in antioxidants, and because they’re high in pectin and acidic, they only need sugar and water to form a thick jam or preserve. Yes, what we call “cranberry sauce” is nothing more than cranberry jam or preserves. Of course, no one says you have to stop at sugar and water. If cranberry + rum is good in a mixed drink, why wouldn’t it be good in sauce?
This yields at least three pints, and sometimes as much as a cup over that. You can kick it up further with whole spices – leave a cinnamon stick or some star anise pods or a few cloves in the pot and remove them at the end of the cooking process. For smaller spices like cloves, however, you’ll probably want to tie them in a little satchel of cheesecloth. Finding them in a dark, thick liquid like cooked cranberry sauce is not easy.
Cranberry Sauce with Rum and Chambord
8 cups cranberries, rinsed, checked for leaves/stems
3 cups sugar
1¾ cups water
½ cup dark rum
¼ cup Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
1. Place a small saucer in your freezer. Really.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large, heavy pot or saucepan (a Dutch oven works well) over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently and occasionally skimming any thick foam off the top. Boil until the mixture reaches 220 degrees, or until a large drop placed on that frozen saucer and placed in the freezer for three minutes comes out solid. (Turn the heat on the stove down while you wait to check the sample in the freezer.)
3. The sauce can be stored in a sealed container in your fridge for at least three weeks, or you can put the sauce up in sealed mason jars if you know how to safely can foods.