Cranberry Sauce is essential for Thanksgiving

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As a child — and well into my 30s — the wiggly, jiggly log of cranberry sauce that my Aunt Jane served every year gave me the creeps. I refused to even taste it. Yet Ocean Spray produces some 70 million cans of it a year, some 85% of which sell between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Clearly, it would not be Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce. When I hosted my first turkey dinner, I knew my time had come. Still hesitant about the wiggly-jiggly, I found a recipe for a whole-berry sauce with dried cherries and cloves. And then I understood. It was the first time that I actually tasted cranberry sauce.

Times Food columnist Jenn Harris is a huge fan of the wiggly-jiggly, so much so that by design her Jellied Cranberry Sauce is pretty darned close to what comes from the can.

Still, there are those of us who prefer whole-berry sauce, often embellished with fruit and spices, to the jelly. Chef Adam Perry Lang adds apples and calvados brandy. Former Times Test Kitchen recipe tester Mary Ellen Rae adds citrus to make a Cranberry-Tangerine Relish. A few pulses in the food processor and it’s done. No cooking (or burner space) necessary. And former Times cooking editor Genevieve Ko adds pears and some heat to make Habanero Pear Cranberry Sauce — an absolute must for the day-after sandwich.

A mixture of fresh cranberries, cranberry juice, sugar and pectin — this cranberry sauce is sweet, has a jelly-like consistency, and tastes only of pure cranberries and sugar.

20 minutes

Serves 10 to 12

Chef Adam Perry Lang likes to make his cranberry sauce with apple flavors ahead of time and chill it to let the pectin develop.

25 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Tangerines give this relish, a take on the classic combination of cranberry and citrus, a distinctive flavor that’s beautifully accentuated with Chinese five-spice powder.

10 minutes

Serves 12

This cranberry sauce adds heat in two different forms: the fruity spiciness of habanero chiles and a milder warmth from pink peppercorns.

15 minutes

Makes about 3 cups

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