Sweeten up your Thanksgiving naturally
Skip the sugar and update a classic this Thanksgiving with naturally sweet Cranberry Apple Date Sauce. Since the beginning of June, every other Wednesday has become my clean out the fridge day. On Wednesday afternoons, I pick up my CSA share and that morning calls for an inventory of the refrigerator. Figuring out what was lost in the back, what accidentally got frozen (does your fridge have those super cold spots too?) and what just didn't survive. I'm usually pretty good about finishing up all delicate produce before it goes bad, leaving the root vegetables for last but every now and then something falls through the crack.
Then of course there are the fall fruits. We're currently drowning in the them, which is not necessarily a bad thing to have but the first couple of apple weeks resulted in mealy apples that didn't just cut it for snacking on. So they've sat in the crisper drawer looking sad and unloved with the promise of sauce making in the future.
As a professional recipe developer there are always random foods in my fridge beyond neglected CSA produce and I managed to turn up a mostly full bag of fresh cranberries and a random orange. It was as the universe was telling me to make this sauce! Cran-apple sauce is nothing new but I'm trying to make a commitment to eating a little healthier this holiday season and non-undoing the positive effects of Whole30 (currently day 25!), so I knew I could make this sugar free. We purchased a big bag of dates back on Whole30 day 1 with the intention of doing something with them but they still remained untouched and I knew that was going to be the answer to the sweetness in this sauce.
Trust me, I'm not crazy enough to think you don't need something sweet in your cranberry sauce, I love the tartness of cranberries but no sugar – natural or otherwise will leave you puckering away after a spoonful on your turkey (or chicken or pork)!
This sauce tends to fall more on the apple side of flavor than cranberry but that's no reason why you can't still serve it up next to the bird at your Thanksgiving table. If you're going to have fun with at least one dish this year let it be the cranberry sauce – especially this one! With the gorgeous color and relatively hands off cooking method, you'll be eating this by the spoonful!
3lbs apples (any variety), peeled, cored and diced
1 -12 ounce package fresh cranberries
1 cup pitted medjool dates
1 orange, juiced
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-Place the dates in your food processor with 1/2 cup of hot water, process until the dates are pureed and form a thick paste. If necessary add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more water as you puree the dates. You want to make sure the puree isn't too watery.
-In a large pot combine the diced apples, cranberries, date paste, apple cider, water and ground cinnamon. Turn the heat to medium and cook for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
-During that time the cranberries should soften and start to pop and after 30 minutes the apples will begin to break down. Once everything is soft enough, mash the sauce with a potato masher. If necessary, cook the sauce for another 10 to 15 minutes longer.
-If a smoother sauce is desired transfer to a blender to puree completely.
-Let cool completely before storing in air tight containers. Sauce will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks or you can freeze for up to 3 months.
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