Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cranberry Compote

Cranberry Compote with Blueberries and Ginger

When I recall cranberry sauce from family gatherings in Michigan when I was younger, I remember a red, gelatinous mass in the shape of a can.  I bet you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Sometimes it would be broken up into jiggly shards, but usually they would just slide it straight from the can into a small bowl and park it next to the turkey.  While it wasn't appetizing in the least, I was fascinated as to why something that appeared more akin to a science experiment was such a staple during the holidays.  And perhaps out of sympathy for the person who brought it or just being an opponent of wasted food, I would always extract a spoonful from it and attempt to "spread" it on my turkey.

While I didn't particularly enjoy the flavor, the syrupy-sweetness, or the texture, I eventually came to find it strangely comforting.  Whether it was thought of as good or bad, it didn't change the fact that it was always there.  It was reliable - a constant.  During my first Thanksgiving living in Austin, I even purchased a ceremonial can of cranberry sauce which I didn't even end up opening.  It was just to have it.

Fast forward a few years to 2005 and spending Thanksgiving with a friend's family.  I had spent the past couple Thanksgivings in Texas on my own, so I was grateful to him and his family for extending their hospitality to me, regardless of how the holidays made me feel at the time.  I wanted to contribute something to the potluck, but they assured me they had everything, from the turkey to corn on the cob to the can of cranberry sauce, covered.  But knowing the lonely fate of that can, I decided that I wanted to actually make cranberry sauce from scratch, and I insisted on bringing it.  And when I placed it next to the turkey and we all began to eat, it ended up being far from lonely, drawing rave reviews from everyone there.

So for Thankgiving recipe #3, I present to you a simple and beautiful take on cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Compote
(GF, DF, V, rSF, SF)

10 oz whole cranberries
1 handful blueberries (~2 oz)
1 c fresh orange juice
1/2 c unrefined sugar
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1 teaspoon orange zest

1.  You can use either fresh or frozen cranberries and blueberries.  If using fresh, rinse thoroughly.
2.  Combine berries, fresh orange juice, and unrefined sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  This will take about five minutes; closer to ten if using frozen berries.    Be careful to avoid letting the mixture boil over.  Also, when the cranberries begin to pop, try not to be alarmed.
3.  When the popping begins to slow, add ginger and zest.  Reduce temperature to low heat and continue cooking for about five more minutes.
4.  Remove from heat source and allow to cool.  Cranberries naturally contain a good amount of pectin, so as the mixture cools it will continue to thicken significantly.
5.  Makes roughly 2 cups.

No substitute for fresh squeezed

Ready for the stove

Finished and continuing to thicken as it cools

Most recipes for cranberry sauce call for twice the amount of sugar, and indeed, when I first made it, that's how much I used.  But in all that sweetness, you can lose the characteristic flavor and tartness of the cranberries.  Using raw coconut palm sugar, I found that half a cup was plenty sweet.  But acknowledging that my idea of "sweet" is not really sweet at all to most, feel free to adjust the sugar ratio to your preference.  Other potential adjustments to make this recipe your own include adding ground spices like cinnamon or allspice, using different juices or even champagne, or incorporating chopped nuts or other fresh fruits.

And beyond serving alongside the turkey during the holidays, there are also a variety of ways to enjoy this cranberry compote year-round.  I personally like to make nut butter and jelly sandwiches with it or spread it on waffles and pancakes instead of syrup.  It's also killer spooned warm onto frozen desserts or mixed into plain yogurt.

Over baked chicken served with sauteed Chinese broccoli

On gluten-free raisin bread with peanut butter

May this recipe bring comfort, contentment, and blissful smiles to your next holiday gathering.  


  1. This batch I made for the photos didn't last long. Excited to make it again for next week!

  2. Zaaaaooooombaaaay, zaaaaooooombaaaay, zaaaoooombaaay eeehh, aaayyy eehhh, ooohhh ohhh! Oh wait, not those cranberries.... =p I tried posting comments on this 3 times now... hmmmm. Anyway, you know I love a good relish, compote, marmalade,jelly and chutney. I made 2 big batches of this over the weekend and I jessified them by adding in some mandarin juice, a little dried ginger along with the fresh, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a few pinches of freshly ground allspice. I actually gave a pint of it to one of my coworkers for them to use for their Thursday feast =) I think this would be great with a good variety of nuts, but you know my favorites, pistachio and maybe if you can afford some, toasted pine nuts.. mmmmm! I'll be incorporating some of the batches I made into baked goods as well. How about a Cranberry,almond and chia seed loaf?

  3. Um, yes. Definitely yes to the cranberry almond chia seed loaf.

    Sorry about the commenting woes - it seems to go with the territory unfortunately. But Thank You for sticking to it and finally getting your .02 in. I'm glad your coworker enjoyed your take on this recipe. "Jessify." lol. :)


Thank you so much for visiting The Canary Files. I hope you have enjoyed what you have read and seen. Your feedback is valuable to me and I read and reply to every single comment. So sincere thanks in advance for sharing not only your thoughts, but your time as well.

All the Best,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...