My family has always skipped the “gel in a can” and made cranberry relish from scratch, with sugar, an orange, and a blender.  But last year, I decided to try making a sauce instead.

Doesn't that look festive?

Doesn’t that look festive?

I am the biggest spice weenie, but everyone else in my family likes things hot.  My parents are on a perpetual quest for sinus-nuking Chinese mustard.  Dad and my grandfather used to have jalapeño-eating contests.  A while back, I gave Dad a bottle of the kind of hot sauce that comes with a disclaimer; he and the Wife each tried a drop, and bonded through their tears.  When I don’t weenie it down, people with normal capsaicin tolerance describe this cranberry sauce as having great flavour with a mild kick.  The only way I can handle it is with the accompaniment of dairy, like on a cracker with feta cheese.

It's also fantastic on vanilla ice cream.

It’s also fantastic on vanilla ice cream.

12 oz. fresh cranberries
2 jalapeño peppers
1 c. water
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. lemon or lime juice*

  • remove cores and seeds from jalapeños, then mince
  • stir sugar in water in a saucepan to dissolve, bring to a boil
  • add in cranberries, jalapeños, and juice, return to boil
  • drop heat to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (the less you stir, the more nice, big berry chunks you’ll have)

If you’re into canning, you can absolutely do a large batch of this and save it to give out as gifts (Merry Christmas, Dad!), or for your own personal hoarding.  Otherwise, let it cool to room temperature, then store it in the refrigerator.

* Chemically, there is no reason you couldn’t substitute in orange juice if you wanted to. If somebody wants to try that as a variation, please comment to let me know how it came out!