I remember Thanksgivings when I was a kid. My mom would open up a can of cranberry sauce and my brothers and I would watch as it would wiggle its was out of the can and PLOP into the serving dish. It would be in the perfect mold of a can, including the rings around the middle. Nothing could look less appetizing and when I was young I did not like cranberry sauce. Of course, I had never actually tried it but I knew as all children know these things that if I were to put that jelly stuff on my turkey it would surely ruin it.
As a teenager, I decided to give it a try and discovered to my shock and amazement that I actually liked cranberry sauce. I tried a couple different types, including a homemade chutney that wasn't very good and decided that I liked the canned the best.
I continued eating canned cranberry sauce for many years, I'm ashamed to admit. Fortunately, I finally had enough sense to get over the idea that fresh cranberry sauce was a bad thing and make my own. I've never opened another can of cranberry sauce and I never will.
Two of the flavors that I feel really bring out the best characteristics of fresh cranberries are clove and orange. At first I used orange marmalade but found I got a better flavor from grated orange peel. Tonight when I made some of this sauce, I decided to add a vanilla bean for no other reason than that I had one on hand. The taste was wonderful, the vanilla adding a nice tone to the sauce. I'm listing in the recipe below as an optional ingredient as it's not something I usually add though it is certainly worth trying. If you don't have vanilla bean, you can always try extract.
To start the sauce, combine in a saucepan:
1 c water
1 c sugar
Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring the water to a boil. Add:
1 12oz package of fresh cranberries
1 T grated orange peel
1/2 t ground clove
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (optional)
When water begins to boil again, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and crushing the berries against the side of the pan with your spoon. Remove vanilla pods (if using) from sauce when finished, scraping out vanilla paste and adding it to the sauce. Pour into a bowl and allow to completely cool. Cover and refrigerate until it is served.
That's all there is to it! The orange and clove in this sauce are enough to win over anyone who claims to not like cranberry sauce, guaranteed! I can't tell you how many times over the years I've won converts. You will too - try it and see!