If you've ever cooked with highbush cranberries, if you're like me, the first thing you did was probably try to imitate cranberry sauce. If you want an easy version that tastes like the real thing, read on.
The flavor of the two fruits is kind of similar, but highbush cranberries are juicy, juicy, and make a brilliant red liquid and coulis. Regular cranberries really need to get cooked or pureed to become cranberry sauce like we think of in the U.S. and the naturally cook into a thick mash.
Highbush cranberry juice is much more liquid, so to get it anywhere near the same consistency you'd probably need to cook down a thick coulis (fresh fruit puree) or thicken the juice with something, which is what I do here.
I don't really love using cornstarch much, which is something that people might reach for. Don't get me wrong, it works, for this I'd rather reach for a natural thickener. Apple sauce is plentiful this time of year, and naturally sweet so it's a shoe-in, although I try to not use too much as it will lighten the color of the sauce, which I think looks the best red/blush and not too pink.
Other than that everything is straightforward. There's a little orange zest, a pinch of spices, enough grated ginger to make it a little spicy (if you're like me, you can tone it down a bit) and, the secret to a lot of my fruit recipes: a glug of vinegar. In a perfect world, you'd use highbush cranberry vinegar, but white wine vinegar is fine too. The vinegar does a few things: it stabalizes the mixture, and will stop it from fermenting, but moreso it's there to underscore the tartness and add some zip to ensure it can stand up to things like fatty pieces of meat. There's some white wine in the mix
Use the sauce anywhere you'd use cranberry sauce, and if you want a velvety texture like I sometimes do, puree it smooth in a blender to break up the apple particles. If you want it thicker, add another spoon of apple sauce.
Highbush Cranberry Sauce
- 3 cups (1 lb) highbush cranberries
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar*
- ½ cup dry white wine*
- ¾ cup water
- ½ cup apple sauce or more to thicken to taste
- Zest of ¼ an orange
- ½ oz piece of ginger grated*
- Tiny pinch each ground cloves and allspice
- 2 oz honey
- Pulse the berries in a food processor or otherwise mash them up very well, then mix with the wine, water and vinegar and infuse overnight (stirring well a few times if you can remember).
- The next day, pass the mixture through a food mill, or strain through strainer, pressing out the juices.
- Combine all ingredients in a small pot, heat and bring to a simmer whisking, until thickened.
- If you want it more thick, add some extra apple sauce, but don't add too much or it will dilute the color.
- From here the sauce can be made and refrigerated for a week before serving, or canned. Serve warm or cold.