DECEMBER 14: Homemade cranberry sauce is a flavoursome game changer


Home made cranberry sauce is a jewelled dish that will lift your Christmas lunch. Image © Bruce McMichael

Recognise these lyrics? If so, then you and I have similar tastes in Christmas songs …

“I’m spending this one alone” he said
“Need a break, this year’s been crazy”
I said, “me too, but why are you?
You mean you forgot cranberries too?”

Then suddenly we laughed and laughed
Caught on to what was happening
That Christmas magic’s brought this tale
To a very happy ending!”

This song dates back to 1981 and the new wave band The Waitresses (makes me sing) and is my equal top seasonal song, along with Greg Lake’s ‘I Believe in Father Christmas” (makes me cry).

This year’s Covid-19 Christmas is very different and for millions of us, we’ll be celebrating with just one or two people and many more on Zoom. Whatever you do I wish you and very Happy Christmas time and offer this recipe for Lemon Grove Cranberry Sauce to zest up your festive meal.

Fresh, tart and boozy (if you add the Port or Cointreau) you’ll be enjoying this sauce with its lovely citrus-scented aroma and will never go back to shop bought.  

Lemon Grove Cranberry Sauce  

What you’ll need

350 gm fresh or frozen cranberries

100 gm sugar (e.g. light muscovado, light brown or Demerara)

100 ml water

2 x 3cm strips lemon peel (could swap in orange or tangerine)

2 tbs lemon juice

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 tps vanilla extract

Salt, pinch

How to

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, before reducing to a simmer.

Continue to cook until the berries pop, between 10-20 minutes (depending on whether berries were frozen or fresh) stirring occasionally to make sure the berries don’t burn on the bottom of the pan.

Once the berries have ‘popped’, use the back of a wooden spoon to press and crush them against the pan. No need to press if you want the berries to hold their shape.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Chill the fridge before serving.

Freezes well and so is perfect for preparing in the days and weeks before.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Remove lemon peel and cinnamon before serving.

stainless steel spoon beside brown glass jars

Lemon Bites tips

Add a few frozen strawberries, cherries or a tablespoon of port, or an orange liqueur such as Cointreau for a new flavour.

Your sauce will keep in the fridge for up to one week, but they freeze well frozen.

Defrost at room temperature. Can be enjoyed, or gently reheated.

Enjoy with your Christmas turkey, duck or chicken, with a strong cheese or with a baked Brie.

Do let me know your favourite Christmas songs and how the cranberry sauce works out.

candle lantern beside pine c one and green leaf plant
Cranberry are the very essence of Christmas . Photo by Jessica Lewis on
Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.