To make cranberry sauce from scratch, bring 1 cup each of sugar and water to a boil in a large saucepan, then add in 4 cups of cranberries. Simmer the cranberries for 10 minutes, until most have burst. Remove from heat, and chill the sauce in the refrigerator.
When preparing cranberry sauce, you can use fresh or frozen cranberries. Rinse the cranberries in a colander and pick out any bruised or damaged ones before adding them to the saucepan. After the sugar-water mixture boils, add the cranberries and let the water return to a full boil before reducing the heat to a simmer.
Once the cranberries start to burst, you can add optional flavorings to enhance your cranberry sauce, such as orange or lemon zests, or a handful of raisins, currants and chopped pecans. You can also add spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. After removing the cranberry sauce from the heat, it may look thin, but the sauce thickens considerably as it chills in the refrigerator.
Some variations of homemade cranberry sauce call for adding juices to the sugar-water mixture for different flavors, such as cranberry and orange juice. You can also replace the water with tea or red wine, or replace the sugar with maple syrup or honey.