thanksgiving cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce made from fresh cranberries is a staple of the American dinner holiday. Some families also purchase it canned. WikiCommons

What’s a Thanksgiving turkey dinner without cranberry sauce? Some might say it’s an inedible dinner, or at least one that is less enjoyable. Cranberry sauce, a jelly or relish made out of fresh cranberries, sugar, water or juice and other spices, is a staple of the American holiday dinner table and the Christmas dinner in the United Kingdom.

But not everyone cooks their own cranberry sauce. The commercial cranberry industry in the U.S. revolutionized the canned cranberry sauce, a condensed and sweetened jelly typically served on a dish and sliced into individual servings.

It’s widely believed that cranberries were on the menu at the first Thanksgiving dinner between the Pilgrims and American Indians, according to a historic account by the Kitchen Project. But no one has ever challenged that belief, given the anthropological evidence supporting American Indian consumption of cranberries.

Here are a few cranberry sauce recipes, including a popular instructional video:

Chunky Cranberry Sauce

This recipe, via Food and Wine, features chucks of whole cranberry fruit. It calls for 1 pound of fresh or frozen cranberries, 1 1/2 cups of apple juice and 1 cup of sugar. The instructions are simple: combine the cranberries, juice and sugar in a large saucepan. For 20 minutes, simmer the mixture over low heat until the berries burst and the sauce resembles a jam. Transfer the finished sauce to a bowl and refrigerate until its chilled.

Orange Scented Cranberry Sauce

This recipe, via the Martha Stewart website, incorporates spices with the standard ingredients. It calls for 12 ounces (or 2 bags) of washed cranberries, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 4 strips of orange zest, 1 cup of orange juice, coarse salt and pepper. The instructions are as follows: combine the cranberries, sugar, orange zest, 1/2 cup of water in a medium saucepan; season the mixture with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the mixture for 20 to 25 minutes, or until its thickened. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the orange juice. Let it cool before serving.

Cranberries Micronutrients and Vitamins | HealthGrove