Fresh cranberry sauce – who would have ever guessed something like that would, in retrospect, come off as the superstar food winner from this holiday season?

I had 2 quarts of fresh, organic cranberries from my short-lived CSA experiment and browsed to see what kind of sauce or relish dishes others had made. I found this recipe, so simple it was intriguing – just heat to dissolve 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup orange juice, stir in the cranberries, and cook until they pop. It sounded just fine – orange and cranberry and sugar, oh my. But I hesitated on the plain white sugar. These cranberries were so lovely and fresh, and I wanted something a little more . . . special. Sparkly. For Christmas, you know. I am not one to go and experiment with different types of sweeteners, but I did have a bag of Wholesome Sweetener’s organic coconut palm sugar in the cabinet. It was tucked into my BlogHer Food ’12 swag bags last summer and I dutifully dragged it home, where it’s been staring at me dolefully from the pantry ever since, begging me to try it.

I wish I had sooner. Coconut palm sugar doesn’t taste, or smell, anything like coconut. It’s rich and full-bodied, brown sugar flavor with toasty caramel overtones. The granulated crystals are irregularly shaped. While not spicy, it really is reminiscent of cardamom and ginger. I feel like I could be describing wine here, but this sugar was a revelation.

I made the recipe as written, swapped out my coconut palm sugar for the white sugar with a 1:1 ratio and dissolving it into freshly-squeezed orange juice with the pulp, a minor substitution. I discovered that cranberries, when heated, really do pop – just like popcorn!

Here is the sauce as it’s cooking:

Make this sauce the day before you use it; it will gel in the refrigerator. Here it is, perfectly jelled, on top of a scoop of plain yogurt. Fresh cranberry yogurt is delicious:


The beauty of this cranberry sauce with the coconut palm sugar is that it’s just sweet enough to pair with either sweet or savory dishes. And a little goes a long way; we’ve been eating this for 2 weeks

  • Cornish game hens (dinner the Saturday night before Christmas)
  • roast pork tenderloin with boiled new potatoes (dinner the Saturday night after Christmas)
  • chicken sandwiches: sliced chicken breast on toasted sourdough bread with lettuce and cranberry sauce
  • plain yogurt for lunch
  • oatmeal for breakfast
  • creamy vanilla ice cream
  • by itself as an appetizer (Christmas Eve dinner)


Cranberry sauce just moved out the holiday-food category and into my regular condiments repertoire.