Thanksgiving & Tailgate Classic: Homemade Cranberry Sauce In A Mason Jar

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 13, 2012

NOTE: You can watch our TV special "A Thanksgiving Tailgate" on New England Cable News broadcast across the entire six-state region Saturday, Nov. 17 att 11 a.m. and again on Thanksgiving day, Thursday, Nov. 22 at 10 a.m. This recipe is part of the show.

What's Thanksgiving without the bright, red sweet-and-tart splash of cranberry sauce?

Cranberries not only taste and look great, they're deeply rooted in Thanksgiving tradition. Cranberries are native to Southeastern Massachusetts, the area around Plymouth where the Pilgrims settled in 1620 and celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

The Pilgrims thought the long, looping stems of the berries resembled the neck of a crane. So crane-berries got their name.

The area around Plymouth is still filled with cranberry bogs today that pop with explosive bright red color in late summer in autumn when the berries are ready to be harvested.

Cranberries are simply too attractive and charismatic to condemn to eat out of a store-bought can that hides its seasona beauty.

So we make our own, then pour it into medium and large mason jars. They look absolutely perfect on the autumn tailgate table or even the Thanksgiving dinner table.

They also make neat party gifts this time of year. Make a few extra jars and bring them to tailgates and to friends for the holidays.

You can make the sauce easily enough without apples. But we find that add texture and contrast to the sauce.  

Our homemade mason-jar cranberry apple sauce

4 12-ounce bags fresh cranberries

3 to 4 apples, sliced

2¼ cups water

3 cups sugar

Make a few days ahead of the big game or holiday celebration.

Rinse berries in cold water, removing any stems and bad berries. Send bad berries to reform school. Or trash. Put cranberries, apple slices and water in a large pot over medium heat, and stir frequently until water just starts to boil and berries start popping. Continue stirring frequently until most of the berries have popped and apples have softened. Slowly add sugar, while stirring to incorporate. Reduce heat and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, continuing to stir often. Remove from heat. Let cool.

Scoop into quart-sized mason jars and refrigerate. Jarred berries will keep fresh for several weeks. If you want to preserve through the season, can the berries in the Mason jars according to directions on Mason jar box. This much sauce should get you through a good-sized tailgate and a family-sized Thanksgiving dinner.

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