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Posts: 15
Reply with quote  #1 
I'm a BIG fan of the cranberry. And my mom promoted this love with homemade cranberry sauce, not the over-sweetened HFCS concoction that comes in a can.

Cranberry sauce from scratch is ridiculously simple to make - but 'sugar alternatives' (ie, the broken chlorine and sugar molecules they call sucralose, or the white stuff that kills roaches called aspertame) don't gel the homemade sauce like white sugar does.

So I went hunting for a recipe that looks Plan-D friendly, and here's what I found. (Dee, if you're reading, any recommendations you have to alter this recipe would be great.)

Cranberry Sauce with Agave Nectar
by Amy Andrews (

makes 2 cups

1 12 ounce bag fresh, whole cranberries
2/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup orange juice
1 cinnamon stick (2 - 3 inches)
6 black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
3 whole allspice

1. Rinse cranberries and put in medium saucepan. Add agave nectar, orange juice, and cinnamon stick.

2. Place peppercorns, cloves and allspice in a small square of cheesecloth, bundle it up and tie securely with kitchen twine. Trim excess cheesecloth and add bundle to pan of cranberries.

3. Bring cranberry mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring often for 15-20 minutes, until cranberries have broken down and mixture is syrupy.

4. Remove and discard cinnamon stick and peppercorn bag. Store cranberry sauce in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Posts: 1,162
Reply with quote  #2 
My mom always made the whole cranberry sauce too, except she of course used the white sugar that is called for in the recipe on the bag of Ocean Spray whole fresh cranberries.

To convert this wonderful home recipe, I had to get a little creative, because, like you say, we need something that will provide us with the "gel-ing" properties of the boiled white sugar.

That's where agar agar comes in.  Agar agar improves the nutritional quality of the cranberry sauce by adding protein and minerals.  Here's my whole cranberry sauce recipe.  See notes on agar agar below:

Sugar Free Whole Cranberry Sauce
Makes 2 cups

12-oz. bag fresh or frozen cranberries (3 cups)
1 cup water (may need to add a little more during cooking)
1 tablespoon agar agar flakes
1 medium orange, peeled and sliced into small peices
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon orange flavored liquid Stevia, or to taste

Step 1.  Add the agar agar to the water in a medium saucepan.  Let soak at room temperature for 15 minutes, then bring to a boil; Reduce heat to simmer and allow the agar to dissolve completely, then add cranberries. 
Step 2.  Return to a boil until cranberries start to "pop", then reduce heat to low and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
Step 3.   Remove from heat and add agave, stevia, and orange slices. Stir to mix.

Cool completely at room temperature and refrigerate.  Once cool, the cranberry sauce will "gel", just like mom used to make.  This is delicious and is a hit every year!  No one knows the difference between the sugar version and my version!

Note: If you want a completely sugar-free version, you can omit the agave and just use 1 teaspoon of the stevia.

About Agar Agar
Agar agar is derived from a sea vegetable with strong thickening properties that is often used in place of gelatin in vegetarian desserts.  It's perfect for desserts, pie fillings, baked good fillings, puddings, parfaits, fruit or vegetable aspic and more. The flakes dissolve in hot liquids and thicken as it cools.

Since gelatin is made from animal tissue, many vegetarians rely upon this seaweed derivative as a substitute.  Like ordinary gelatin, agar is flavorless and becomes gelatinous when it's dissolved in water, heated, and then cooled.  Agar, like gelatin, is full of protein (though incomplete), but it also contains the rich array of minerals one would expect from seaweed.   To use agar, just soak it in the liquid for about 15 minutes, bring it to a gentle boil, then simmer while stirring until it's completely dissolved.  The liquid will gel as it cools.   You can use Knox unflavored gelatin instead of the agar if you want to, but Agar gels more firmly than gelatin, and it sets and melts at a higher temperature--it can even set at room temperature.  Agar can be purchased in a health food store, either as flakes or as a powder.

I prefer the agar flakes.   Each of these amounts will firm two cups of liquid:  3 tablespoons agar flakes = 2 teaspoons agar powder.  If you want to use unflavored gelatin, substitute one tablespoon powdered gelatin for every tablespoon of powdered agar.

Agar Agar Flakes - Wild Hand Harvested
I buy the Eden agar flakes at Sunflower Market, Sprouts, or Whole Foods.  They are also available for purchase online at

They run about $7.00 for a small bag, but it is well worth it.

Dee McCaffrey
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