Why didn't my cranberry sauce thicken?

Grandma Erma's Spirited Cranberry Sauceenlarge

Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Melanie Clarke

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If you have a cooking question, our expert, Marge Perry, can answer it. Marge teaches home cooks in her classes at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She is an award-winning food writer, longtime contributor for Cooking Light and a number of other leading food magazines, author of the blog A Sweet and Savory Life, columnist for Newsday, and has contributed to over 20 cookbooks.

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Cranberries have a lot of natural pectin, the ingredient that makes cooked fruit gel. To release that pectin, you need to cook the berries until they burst and can form a bond with the sugar. Boil the mixture until it is thickened and then-- and this is important-- don't refrigerate the mixture until it is cooled to room temperature.

Also, if  you use a sugar substitute or try to use less sugar, the mixture will likely be thinner than you want.

For more tips and ideas, see our collection of Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce Recipes.

Recipe: Grandma Erma's Spirited Cranberry Sauce 

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