Cranberry sauce


"I got the idea that the 'toffs' had cranberry sauce and the 'proles' had bread sauce. After all where on earth would poor Lancastrians get cranberries from after the 'War" when we were growing up?" Graham


This post is for you Graham, having read the above comment on my post on bread sauce. Being a prole myself I don't think we had cranberry sauce either and if we did it came out of a jar from the shop. It seems to me as I read the 'literature' that you can get fresh cranberries over there in the UK and frozen ones too, but here in Oz I think we can only get the dried ones well in the supermarket anyway, so any recipes (that I will come to) would have to use dried ones if you were making it here. Much like wartime England. Or else you would just have to buy it ready-made which is not necessarily the best idea. Well not according to the Recipe Tin Eats lady anyway:

"I tried store bought cranberry sauce once many years ago and it turned me right off it. It just tasted like….jam. I may as well have slathered my turkey with strawberry jam!" Nagi - Recipe Tin Eats

Mind you her recipe calls for fresh or frozen cranberries and she's in Sydney, so maybe they have them there. Unlikely though - I checked both Coles and Woolworths and neither of them have frozen cranberries, let alone fresh - just the dried ones. Woolworths actually has a recipe for cranberry sauce, but they use cranberry juice and dried cranberries - otherwise known as craisins. So if you want to make your own cranberry sauce here in Australia then you will have to make do with dried, so I suspect there would be none of that popping of the fruit that some recipes described.


So I think that cranberry sauce is really an American thing - well cranberries are native to America, and I have written about them before. Cranberry sauce is the traditional sauce to accompany the Thanksgiving turkey. Like Graham I really do not remember having cranberry sauce in my youth, but I may vaguely remember redcurrant sauce? Now redcurrants are definitely a British thing.


Personally I am unsure whether it is actually a modern/traditional thing rather than a rich/poor thing. Nowadays it does seem to be a traditional Christmas turkey accompaniment - at least in the UK, but I suspect that this is more of a modern fashion thing that has emanated from America, than a really traditional thing. Nigel Slater has a recipe that is flavoured with orange, as are many British versions - Felicity Cloake does a mini rundown of the 'perfect' cranberry sauce and basically plumps for Prue Leith's version which is pretty simple:


"because you can make it ahead of time and keep it on display, suggests you’re a bona fide domestic deity, when in fact all you’ve done is chucked a few ingredients into a pan."


(Nigel Slater's version on the left, Felicity Cloake's on the right)


It seems to pop up more in relation to thinks like duck and venison and pork than turkey. And what do you do with the leftovers? Well that's where the true invention and playfulness comes in. Delia Smith had two pages of suggestions for Cranberry recipes although none of them were quite so inventive as Braised pork with cranberry and five-spice from Food Ideas.


Anyway we didn't have any at our Christmas feast, and nobody seemed to think that we should have had any. But then there wasn't any bread sauce either. Just gravy. So maybe I was even poorer than you Graham and didn't have either, although I do have very vague memories of bread sauce which are not very exciting, and so I suspect that (a) it came out of a packet and (b) the idea was quickly dropped when I left home.


And in spite of most celebrity chefs waxing lyrical about cranberry sauce there are others who are not fans anyway:


"a condiment so vile it’s taken the money of Big Cranberry to fool us into believing that jam is an acceptable accompaniment to a roast dinner? " Jonathan Nunn - The Guardian

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