* This post is part of my “Make Ahead Holidays,” series, which will go through Christmas. I will tell you how to make the big day(s) less rushed, and how to make your feast cost the least.
A couple of days after Thanksgiving last year, cranberries went on sale at Aldi for 19 cents a bag. You can imagine how my mind started swirling, as I stood in front of the display, and devised ways to employ said cranberries. To be honest, I was so dizzied with excitement, it bordered on manic. I make my own cranberry sauce, but I needed to quickly brainstorm, because tomorrow they could be gone.
Visions of sugared cranberries started dancing in my head . . . dehydrated cranberries, cranberry vinegar, pies with cranberries, and yes, cranberries in smoothies. There – – I officially talked myself into a bulk purchase, and filled my basket with 25 bags of cranberries. Onlookers questioned me with their eyes, and wondered aloud while I was in line, “What are you going to do with all of those cranberries?” I ticked off the newly concocted list of ways I will use them. Did they think I was crazy? Probably most people in these instances, but victory is mine, because I’ve used every gosh darn bag, save one, for the sugared cranberries we will be making next month.
These cranberries have been a big budget boon for me, because they have supplemented smoothies for my family. Every morning, I’m at my smoothie station making different fruit blends for breakfast, with cranberries in the mix most of the time. They have sweetened salads in vinegar, and given a tart taste when rehydrated in breads. But my favorite way to use the cranberries is making and canning cranberry sauce.
Canning your own cranberry sauce means one less preparation right before a holiday meal. Yes, I know, you can buy it, and I do love the canned stuff too . . . but nothing compares to the fresh taste of homemade cranberry sauce with whole berries. It’s just superior. As a side bonus, it’s a snap to make and easy to can.
I also priced out this cranberry sauce per jar, and calculated each pint at 39 cents. So you are getting a better product, for a very low price.
Remember this post after Thanksgiving, and check your local Aldi for cranberry sales. Wait a couple of days, as the prices drop daily, because no one is rushing to stock up on cranberries. People have no idea how to use cranberries in bulk, but now you do.
Yields 6 pints of cranberry sauce
4 cups sugar
4 cups apple cider or apple juice (Aldi has gallons of apple cider for $2.98)
4 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
Combine sugar, apple juice, and cranberries.
Bring ingredients to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, and simmer until cranberries pop, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. To can, fill pints leaving 1/4 headspace. (No need to sterilize clean jars, because they will be processed for more than 10 minutes.) Water bath can jars for 15 minutes. Take out of water, and let rest for 24 hours before removing rings and storing.