I love cranberry sauce, but I don’t love the massive amount of sugar that goes into it. My solution was to offset the tartness of the cranberries with sweet fruits.
My first attempt involved cooking the cranberries with orange juice and a super sweet apple. The cranberry sauce was almost, but not quite sweet enough. I needed to add a small amount of sweetener to take the edge off the tartness.
For my next attempt, I used white grape juice and golden raisins. That did the trick. The apples, golden raisins and white grape juice add sweetness without changing the taste of the cranberries.
If you puree this, the texture, from the apple, becomes something between applesauce and cranberry sauce.
No Refined Sugar Apple Cranberry Sauce
I used a Kiku apple to make my cranberry sauce. Kikus are especially sweet apples, 20 percent sweeter than even the extra-sweet Fujis. In fact, they are supposed to be the sweetest apples you can buy. If you use another kind of apple, you might need to add more raisins to get the level of sweetness right. The Kikus are also quite large. One apple was equal in weight to a whole bag of cranberries.
12 ounce bag cranberries
12 ounce Kiku apple (or equivalent amount of other extra-sweet apple, such as Fuji), peeled, cored, chopped into 1/2″ dice
8 ounces orange juice or white grape juice
4 ounces golden raisins (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon, or more, to taste (optional)
1/2 tsp. orange extract, optional
Boil the cranberries, apple, raisins and juice until everything is soft and the mixture has reduced down to 2 1/2 cups. Use a low flame and stir regularly to prevent the mixture from burning on bottom. Mash the apples into the cranberries. Add the cinnamon and orange extract, if desired. Everything should mash together to form a smooth sauce, but, if necessary, you can puree this in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Taste to see if you need to adjust the sweetness level by adding more raisins or with another kind of sweetener.
Variation: if you don’t want to use the golden raisins, you can leave them out, but you will need to add some kind of sweetener. Instead of the raisins, you could use a little maple syrup, date syrup or honey or even some artificial sweetener. Just to take the tart edge off the cranberries, you will need a couple of tablespoons of sweetener or about 6 packets of artificial sweetener (1 tbl. honey plus 4 packets stevia works). Also, if you use regular Concord grape juice, the sauce will be sweeter because Concord grape juice is much sweeter cup for cup than white grape juice (or at least the white grape juice I used).