Cranberry sauce undoubtedly conjures up thoughts of the holidays. Sweet or slightly tart, cranberry sauce is generally served as a condiment but can be incorporated into many savory and sweet dishes.
If you have leftover cranberry sauce after your holiday festivities, don’t let it go to waste. Since homemade cranberry sauce freezes well, you can keep it for a couple more months by taking a few steps to store it in the freezer. Below is a guide to preserving cranberry sauce successfully in the freezer.
Types of Cranberry Sauce
As its name suggests cranberry sauce is a sauce or relish made from cranberries traditionally served as a condiment with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Cranberry sauce can either be sweet or have a slightly sour taste depending on one’s preference and the recipe.
The sauce is made by boiling the berries in sugar water. Some people prefer using a crock pot or slow cooker. The berries soften and the mixture will thicken. Citrus zest, orange juice, ginger, port, maple syrup, slivered almonds, and spices such as cinnamon are often added to the sauce giving it a true holiday flavor.
The canned variety is somewhat different and can be either jellied, condensed, or a looser consistency. The jellied form comes in a can and holds its shape allowing it to be sliced if it is not heated.
Can Cranberry Sauce Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze cranberry sauce and it’s a great way to avoid waste and save money. You can freeze homemade cranberry sauce very successfully for later use. If you want to freeze canned cranberry sauce, there may be some changes due to the jellied texture and moisture loss after freezing.
As with any frozen food, it is important to protect the items from contact with air and moisture on freezing to prevent freezer burn. For the best results, freeze cranberry sauce soon after it has been made to ensure an excellent quality product once thawed.
The older the sauce is when freezing, the worse the quality will be once thawed. Cranberry sauce that is nearing its expiry should not be frozen but rather used or discarded.
How To Freeze Cranberry Sauce
Step 1: Cool
If the cranberry sauce has been heated or freshly made, it needs to cool completely to room temperature before freezing. Freezing the cranberry sauce while still warm will cause large ice crystals to form which will ruin the texture and cause freezer burn.
Step 2: Portion and Pack
To freeze individual small portions of cranberry sauce, pour it into an ice cube tray and place it into the freezer. Once fully frozen, pop the cubes out of the tray and place them in a resealable freezer bag. Press out as much as possible before sealing the bag.
To freeze larger quantities, pour or scoop the desired portion sizes into resealable freezer bags or freezer safe containers. Carefully press out all the air before sealing the bag. Make sure to leave some headspace as the cranberry sauce may expand slightly on freezing. Alternatively, use a vacuum sealer if you have one.
Step 3: Label and Freeze
Label each bag with the date so you can keep track of how long the sauce has been frozen.
How To Thaw Frozen Cranberry Sauce
The best way to defrost cranberry sauce is to remove the bag from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw slowly. Once thawed, give it a stir to mix all the ingredients evenly.
You don’t have to thaw cranberry sauce ice cubes when using them in a smoothie. Just pop the frozen cubes straight into the blender with the other ingredients.
Tips to Freeze Canned Cranberry Sauce
When you freeze canned cranberry sauce, use the same process as you would for homemade cranberry sauce. Never freeze canned cranberry sauce in the can. Decant it into freezer bags or a freezer safe container. Make sure to press out as much air as possible before sealing the bags.
Keep in mind that the jellied texture changes on freezing. When it’s time to defrost the cranberry sauce, place it in the fridge overnight. Once defrosted, you can spruce up the sauce by cooking it on low heat with fresh orange juice, orange zest, or fresh cranberries. Drizzle it over cream cheese as a topping for scones, pancakes, bagels, or French toast.
Cranberry sauce is deliciously sweet, tart, and way too good to waste. Versatile for use in sweet and savory applications, it is the perfect condiment to have on hand to spruce up breakfast, lunch, tea, or dinner. As a bonus, it freezes beautifully so you can enjoy holiday season flavors for many more months.
Freeze leftover cranberry sauce in individual portions for smoothies or larger portions for use in family meals or baking. Besides having a delicious sauce on hand at the drop of a hat, freezing cranberry sauce will save you time, money, and prevent food waste.
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