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Taste Test: Cranberry Sauce

Posted Oct 15 2008 10:18am

Sierra shanghaied nine hungry staffers to test cranberry sauces, as a small but increasing number of growers opt to cultivate these wetland-native berries the organic way--without synthetic pesticides. For a deliciously tart, sweetly organic, or 1950s-style jellied sauce, try one of these winners.

HOMEMADE
En_homemade_6 Nothing became clearer in this test than the supremacy of homemade sauce. Tasters described the samples as "gorgeous," "fresh," and "delicious" with "dynamic undertones." Homemade sauces made with the same basic ingredients (water, sugar, and frozen cranberries) snagged the top two spots in every category, from flavor to texture and appearance.
BEST BET: Fresh or frozen berries and your favorite recipe.

 En_whole_4WHOLE BERRY 
While other organic entries drew comparisons to cough syrup, a relatively sweet sauce from Tree of Life (with lemon juice and berry concentrates) earned high marks for its tempting appearance and strong cranberry flavor. Ocean Spray's conventional sauce with high-fructose corn syrup scored slightly higher overall but lost points for its texture and appearance.
BEST BET: Tree of Life organic whole-berry cranberry sauce, treeoflife.com.  

JELLIED
En_jelly_3 Organic jellied sauces flat-out failed. Tasters described them as "grainy" and "nasty" with a "medicinal" aftertaste and an "aggressive lack of texture." Strong cranberry flavors were nowhere to be found. If you must have a jellied, canned sauce and are willing to eat berries from pesticide-treated bogs, stick with conventional kinds until organic sauce makers devise better recipes.
BEST BET:
Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce, oceanspray.com.

Share your recipes: We used 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and 10 ounces frozen cranberries for our homemade sauce. What's your favorite cranberry sauce recipe? What secret ingredients to you add to spice things up?

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