You need only three ingredients for a basic cranberry
sauce: cranberries, sugar, and water.
Cranberries are naturally rich in pectin, so they gel
easily under the right conditions. The ingredient proportions
and cooking time determine whether you end up with a
sauce that's too runny, a sauce that's perfectly thickened,
or a gel that's firm enough to cut with a knife.
make 2 1/4 cups of cranberry sauce, boil together 1
cup water and 1 cup sugar until the sugar is dissolved,
stirring occasionally. Add 3 cups fresh cranberries
and simmer, stirring occasionally until the berries
are translucent. Continue to simmer until roughly half
the berries pop open and release their pectin. The sauce
will thicken as it cools.
If you want a cranberry mold that holds its shape, continue
to boil the mixture so that more pectin is released from
the fruit, additional water evaporates, and the sauce
becomes thick enough to set into a firm gel. Use a candy
thermometer to test the sauce: You can be certain the
sauce is ready to gel when the syrup reaches 217°F
(103°C). If you cook it to a higher temperature than
this, too much water evaporates and the gel will be rubbery
in texture. When cooked to the correct temperature, the
gel will hold its shape after it has cooled and been turned
out of the mold.
The proportions of ingredients as stated above are important:
Recipes that contain too much sugar are more difficult
to get to the gel point because sugar raises the boiling
point of the mixture.
So no tricky ingredients! Some careful attention to proportions
and cooking time will give you exactly the consistency