I love cranberries, so I decided to make this basic cranberry side dish recipe with fresh cranberries and orange juice. Cranberry sauce isn’t just for holidays or turkey sandwiches, try some on pancakes, pork chops, stirred into yogurt, dolloped onto Brie cheese, or one of my favorites, topped on cheesecake.
How to Cook Fresh Cranberries
- Be sure to use enough sugar. Sugar helps the sauce thicken so don’t cut back on the amount of sugar, or you may end up with a soupy sauce.
- If your cranberry sauce isn’t jelling correctly, add a thickener like a pectin or a cornstarch slurry. Cornstarch slurry is made by whisking together cornstarch and water to form a paste or slurry.
- Similarly to making jam, watch your sauce so it doesn’t boil over.
- As the cranberries simmer, you'll hear a popping sound, don’t get freaked out, it’s normal. The popping sound is the berries bursting through the skins and releasing the natural pectin.
How Long Does Homemade Cranberry Sauce Last?
Homemade Cranberry sauce freezes well. Cranberry sauce is so simple to make, whip up just enough to last a couple of months and freeze.
Freeze your homemade sauce in an airtight container or freezer-safe plastic bag to prevent freezer burn. Frozen whole cranberries can be frozen in their original package for up to a year. Always check the package use-by dates.
Stored in an airtight covered container your homemade cranberry sauce will stay fresh for up to two weeks. If you don’t think you will use it up withing that time frame then pour the sauce into covered airtight containers and freeze for up to two months.
If there is any strange smell, flavor appearance or any mold, toss it!
What About Store-Bought Cranberry Sauce?
Oh sweet store-bought sauce, I have left you for another, we had a good run but alas I must say goodbye.
If you're not ready to ditch the store variety, then store the canned unopened sauce in a cool pantry. Once opened, remove sauce from the can and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. I use freezer labels to date food that I open and store in the fridge.
The “best by” date is the manufacturer’s estimate of how long the cranberry sauce will remain at peak quality. No matter what the date on the can is, if it’s leaking, rusted, severely dented, or bulging consider it dangerous and toss it.
Store-bought canned cranberry sauce doesn’t freeze well, upon thawing it will get watery.
Here is a good explanation of the manufacturer's date coding. All about food labeling.