Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Molasses

Servings: 8-10 serving(s)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

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Cranberry sauce with apples and molasses is so tasty, so simple, so much better than store bought. Cranberry sauce with apples and molasses

Homemade cranberry sauce is the easiest of all preserves…

I grew up in a house with a cold room in the basement, that brilliant cold storage concept that got forgotten sometime during the post war building craze.

As a child I didn’t much like putting my hands into crates of potatoes in a dim room at the foot of the basement stairs, but I didn’t mind being sent down to choose a bottle of jam or pickles.

The shelves were filled with strawberry, strawberry rhubarb, and raspberry jam, cranberry chutney, spiced currants, crab apple jelly a beautiful blush of clear pink, zucchini relish, mustard pickles, pickled beets and my favourite, Lady Ashburnham pickles. There were huge mason jars of dill pickles and my dad’s favourite, chow chow made with green tomatoes.

All of this stuff wasn’t necessarily labeled and in that dim room it was often hard for young eyes to discern the difference between a jar of strawberry jam, and say, a jar of cranberry chutney.

As a child in a home where preserving is a tradition this is what you believe:

  1. You believe that everyone has a cold room with old wooden shelves that sag under the weight of preserves by the time November arrives.
  2. You assume that every child arrives home from school in October to the sinus-clearing scent of cider vinegar simmering on the stove and tins of liquid paraffin in a water bath that you could dip your fingers in to make finger molds.
  3. You know that crab apple jelly only tastes good when there is no strawberry or raspberry jam left in the house.
  4. You have accidentally made (and eaten) peanut butter and cranberry chutney on toast (or some other unlikely combo).

You’d think I would have absorbed some preserving know-how from my mom, but no…

  • There was the time we decided that strawberry jam had too much sugar so we cut the amount in half and had a whole batch blow up in our basement.
  • There was the time that we bottled zucchini relish when it was too cool so the canning tops didn’t seal and we had to store it all in our fridge.
  • There was the time we made dill pickles and the garlic cloves turned blue.

These days my preserving is limited and I’m happy to receive homemade preserves as gifts, but one preserve I make faithfully year after year is cranberry sauce (mostly because it’s so easy but also because I love it with winter squash and root vegetables).

It adds a lovely dash of colour and a bright flavour to the sometimes drab-coloured plates of winter food. Even better, local cranberries are abundant in New Brunswick and easy to find at local markets.

I know there are a million recipes out there for cranberry sauce but this is my all-time favourite. It’s adapted from Craig Claiborne’s timeless The New York Times Cookbook.

My adaptation —  I swapped out some of the white sugar for molasses which deepens the flavour and works beautifully with the spices. The spicing is light so you still get that bright flavour that makes cranberry sauce so wonderful on a plate of heavy food. You can omit the spices altogether, if you prefer.

Cranberry sauce with apples and molasses

Adapted from The New York Times Cookbook

  • 1 pound of cranberries, picked over and washed
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp allspice (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves (optional)
  1. In a medium pot combine the cranberries, sugar, molasses and apples.
  2. Cover and place on medium heat, stirring from time to time.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Uncover, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook another 10-15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the spices.
  6. The mixture will thicken as it cools but cook it a little longer if you prefer a thicker sauce.
  7. Store in the refrigerator (up to three months) or preserve in canning jars.

The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity.

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Roasted Root Vegetables with Molasses Cider Glaze

Servings: 6-8 serving(s)

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total time: 55 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

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Roasted root vegetables recipe with molasses cider glaze. Served in a hollowed out roasted squash, it's impressive, and easy.

Roasted root vegetables with molasses cider glaze is easy and impressive. 

Sometimes I aspire to be a bit like Martha Stewart; to take the time and attention to set a stunning table or arrange charming seasonal decorations outside the front door.

Truth is I can barely manage to vacuum up the dog hair and clear the dining table of clutter to make room for place settings before our guests land at the door. (Meanwhile my husband is getting the laundry out of view, rounding up the kids and making sure there are no Lego pieces in the path of sock-footed guests.)

My entertaining energy goes into creating a great meal and then relaxing to enjoy it with friends.

Every once in a while a dish comes along that by its very nature has that “Martha” look, and gives the appearance that you have outdone yourself, with really not a lot of effort.

This is that dish. And in spite of the number of steps listed below, it’s pretty easy.

Tip: Prep your vegetables first and get them in the oven. While they’re roasting you can make the cider glaze and toast the pumpkin seeds.

Roasted root vegetables recipe with molasses cider glaze. Served in a hollowed out roasted squash, it's impressive, and easy.

Cider-glazed roasted root vegetables recipe (served in roasted winter squash)

Adapted from A Periodic Table

For the cider glaze:

  • 2 1/2 cups apple cider (or apple juice)
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses

For the vegetables:

  • 1 medium-sized buttercup squash, top third cut off, and seeds removed
  • 4-6 cups of root vegetables, cut into one-inch dice (a mixture of carrots, parsnips, turnip, rutabaga, sweet potato, beets)
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 firm, tart apples, peeled and diced
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh sage or 6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

For the cranberry pumpkin seed sprinkle:

  • 2 tsp. butter or olive oil
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • pinch kosher salt
  • pinch chili powder
  • ½ cup dried cranberries


To make the glaze:

  1. Combine apple cider and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium high heat and simmer until it reduces to about 1/2 cup (15-20 minutes). Be careful not to overdo it.
  2. Remove from heat, add the molasses. Set aside.

Roast your veggies and apples:

  1. Place your choice of root vegetables, along with the apples, onion, garlic and herbs, into a large bowl and toss with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and the sage or thyme.
  2. Turn your mixture out onto a large baking sheet or pan lined with parchment paper.
  3. Season with salt and pepper
  4. Rub the inside of the squash, and the flesh side of the “lid”, with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Place it on a baking sheet, flesh side down.
  6. Put both pans in the oven and roast at 400 F until tender and starting to brown a bit. About 25-35 minutes.
  7. (Toss the chopped veggies every 10  minutes or so)

Toast your pumpkin seeds:

  1. Melt the butter (or warm oil) in a small pan over medium heat.
  2. Add pumpkin seeds to the pan along with the chili powder and toss with the butter.
  3. Toast gently until they start to pop, stirring them around in the pan to ensue nothing burns or browns too much.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the cranberries.

To assemble your squash bowl:

  1. Place roasted quash on a warmed serving platter and fill with the roasted root vegetables.
  2. Pile extra roasted vegetables alongside the squash.
  3. Pour over the cider glaze and sprinkle with the roasted pumpkin seed cranberry mixture.
  4. To serve, slice squash into 4-6 wedges and plate, scooping up some extra root vegetables.

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. It includes cooking tips, menu ideas, featured recipes and more. Here’s the link to subscribe.