Recipes for homemade cranberry sauce call for whole fresh or frozen cranberries, sugar, water and flavoring agents such as citrus zest, onion and nuts, such as pecans or walnuts. Spices to add include nutmeg, allspice and black pepper. Fruits such as raisins and currants can be used for extra flavor.
To make your own whole cranberry sauce, start with 12 ounces of fresh or frozen whole cranberries. Most recipes call for 1 cup of water. If using frozen cranberries, you may reduce the amount of water you add.
Next, decide how sweet to make the sauce. Unlike prepared cranberry products, fresh cranberries are slightly bitter and taste a little like radish. The bitterness provides a pleasing tang once the berries have macerated in sugar. To preserve some of the natural flavor, use less sugar.
To make traditional cranberry sauce, the hard berries must be boiled. Combine 1 cup of water and sugar in a medium-sized pan. Bring to a boil, and add the cranberries. Bring back to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Boil for 10-12 minutes, until the berries soften and burst.
Let the mixture cool until safe to taste, and then adjust the seasoning. The sauce’s tartness marries well with salt and cracked black pepper, while a little minced white onion adds an interesting savory note. Nuts add texture and buttery flavor. For a sweeter, more mellow profile, season with spices such as nutmeg, and add raisins or currants.