Food History, Retro Recipes, Vintage Recipes

Old-Fashioned Cranberry Sauce

Amongst my huge backlog of blog post drafts on here, this one seems a little out of place for a sunny day in May. It is a still a lovely recipe but unfortunately not very seasonal unless you have stumbled upon Viva Blancmange in December. However, some supermarkets sell frozen cranberries all year round (Waitrose) so if you fancy having a go at my recipe now you should be able to do so. If you use frozen cranberries, allow them to defrost first otherwise you will introduce too much moisture into the mixture. Cranberries are high in pectin, so don’t add too much extra sugar as the mixture will solidify quite quickly and resemble rubber.

Regular readers will know I often appear on location and in the studio for That’s Solent TV (Freeview Ch7 and Virgin Media Ch159). I present short films about local history and discuss all manner of topics relating to social history, particularly food history. In December, I was a studio guest on Solent News Now, a topical daily news show for That’s Solent TV.

On this particular occasion, I talked about the history and customs of Brussels sprouts and cranberries with News Anchor and Station Editor, Charlotte Briere-Edney. The segment can be seen in the clip below. Please forgive my shocking hairdo! The heavens opened on my way to the studio and anyone, like myself, who has thick hair will know that going from curly and sassy to a wiry afro is a short ridewhenever moisture gets involved.

Here is my recipe for Cranberry and Orange sauce/jam:

Ingredients: 300g cranberries (fresh or frozen); 3 tablespoons castor sugar; zest and juice of 1 large orange; 1 teaspoon cinnamon; 1 teaspoon ground ginger and 4 tablespoons of water.


  1. Wash cranberries and remove any non-fruit debris;
  2. Place cranberries into a medium saucepan. Add orange juice, zest, sugar, cinnamon, ground ginger and water;
  3. Heat mixture gently until fruit softens, sugar dissolves and ingredients are all blended;
  4. If required, add more sugar particularly if you want consistency of ‘jam’ rather than ‘sauce’. Alternatively, if you want a looser consistency then add more water.

I also found this lovely, simple recipe for cranberry sauce from Recipes of All The Nations by Countess Morphy, published by Herbert Joseph for Selfridges c.1930.

This is one of the most popular sauces in America, particularly for poultry. Put 1 lb of well-washed cranberries in an enamel saucepan in 1 pint of boiling water, and simmer for 20 minutes, crushing the berries with a spoon. Remove the saucepan from the fire and stir in 1/2 lb of sugar. Replace on the fire and simmer for another 15 minutes. Pour the sauce into a basin, without straining, and let it stand in a cool place for at least 12 hours before using.


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