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Side Dish of Nostalgia: 8 Fun Facts About Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Side Dish of Nostalgia: 8 Fun Facts About Jellied Cranberry Sauce

When it comes to side dishes, most can agree that cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving is a must. And for many of us growing up, this meant simply opening up a tin can and emptying the contents onto a dish or plate, which always made a delicate “whoosh-plop” sound. Then it was placed on the table with the rest of the meal.

There, the wiggly, jiggly “log” with its signature ridges, could truly be appreciated. To serve, it was sliced with a knife and slid onto our plates where it politely stayed, never daring to mingle with the potatoes, gravy, or—heaven forbid—the turkey.

But ask anyone about jellied cranberry sauce and they’ll happily share their (strong) opinion about it. Some can’t even look at it; others say the setting is incomplete without it.

But love it or hate it, it’s very much a part of our modern-day Thanksgiving traditions. In fact, Americans consume over 5 million gallons of jellied cranberry sauce every holiday season.

8 Fun facts about canned jellied cranberry sauce:

1. Massachusetts-based Ocean Spray, the largest producer of cranberry products in the U.S., produces about 79 million cans of jellied cranberry sauce each year, 85 percent of which are sold during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

2. Jellied cranberry sauce from a can (the log) is most preferred by consumers totaling 75% of overall cranberry sauce sales.

3. It takes about 200 cranberries to make one can of cranberry sauce.

4. Canned cranberry sauce got its start in 1912 when cranberry growers Marcus L. Urann and Elizabeth Lee started working together to create a jellied sauce, which was concocted by boiling the bruised berries from the bog (say that 3 times fast).

5. Because cranberries were only available for a short window in the fall, canning them made it available year-round.

6. Cranberry sauce in a can became a Thanksgiving staple across the country by 1941.

7. Why does it wiggle? Because cranberries have a high pectin content, which causes the fruit to “gel.” Pectin is a key ingredient added when making jellies or jams.

8. John Lennon confirmed in a 1980 interview that he repeated the words cranberry sauce at the end of the song “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Take a listen to what he said about it!

Whether you’re a fan or foe, we can all agree that jellied cranberry sauce from a can is here to stay, and has earned its rightful place on our tables, and in our hearts, even if it is only once or twice a year.

Prefer homemade? We’ve got an easy cranberry sauce recipe here.

See how jellied cranberry sauce is made:

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  • Shery Sullivan says:

    Susan Olynick. Dumb question but do you peel those oranges before processing?

  • Belinda says:

    A can of cranberry sauce on top of a pork roast in the slow cooker makes a tasty dinner any time of year!

  • Debbie Carter says:

    Poor man’s ( pp+j sandwich). Mix cranberry sauce & water, about a 1/8 cup, then add a little at a time, as it needs it for the sugar to dissolve. ( 1-2 tablespoon of sugar or less) Stir together. Makes jelly. Stays in refrigerator quit a long time. Why buy jelly? It’s cheaper. Unless you treat yourself to your favorite kind. For diabetes, add your own kind of sugar!

  • Rhonda West says:

    Thanks for the history lesson; I’ve always wondered about it! My sis makes the best Cranberry mood around the holidays. I’m obscessed; delicious. My oldest son expects the canned version every Thanksgiving. He doesn’t like it when it’s not on the table to compliment his turkey & dressing. He will accept no substitutes. 😁

  • Kellyanne Harwood says:

    I LOVE jellied cranberry sauce with my holiday meals, very interesting read…Thanks Farmers Almanac for the education on this awesome fruit.❤😊

  • Karen Lancaster says:

    Add cranberry sauce to your bar b que sauce. Great on grilled chicken or pork.

  • Chrissy says:

    Just get rid of the high fructose gmo corn syrup and we’ll buy cans of it again!!!

  • Jill measley says:

    Not only is cranberry sauce required in my home for any time of year,I have taken up sonic limeaide with cranberry. How refreshing. Next year I want to go watch the harversting. I live in nj and think I should see it in person .

  • DeAnne Jones says:

    I would appreciate a low or sugar free option. I can’t eat as much as I would like to because of the sugar/carbs. Please please if you decide to replace sugar use stevia sweetener as a substitute NOT sucralose . It’s much healthier!!

  • Ellen says:

    I love it! It’s not the Holidays without it.
    During the rest of the year I use the the chunky one in chicken and pork recipes.
    If I’m honest… I’m not a fan of homemade. Especially recipes with orange in it. I take a polite portion so as not to offend the hosts; but never have I enjoyed it. 🤢

  • Cynthia Beam says:

    My family loves it year-round – but, it wouldn’t be the holidays without it!

  • rose says:

    I love canned cranberry sauce year ’round! There is nothing quite like that sweet/tart deliciousness! Good with a sandwich-anything really.

  • NanaGoldie says:

    We put whipping cream on whole berry, homemade sauce, for an interesting sweet “dessert.”

  • Chuck Pins says:

    My daughter for Thanksgiving slices the Cranberry sauce into 1/4 inch slices, puts a layer of cream cheese on a slice and then places another slice on top. Makes up a platter of these on the serving line. Look forward to it every year.

  • CJ says:

    We aren’t fond of the canned version. We DO make our own with either fresh or frozen cranberries, orange, some sugar, etc. and, if we want it to have some “kick” some finely chopped jalapeno pepper. We are “chili heads” and like a lot of food that has chiles in it.

  • Anita J Burrous says:

    Grind one bag of cranberries with a whole orange in a grinder or food chopper – into fine pieces. Add two cups of sugar (can skimp if you like it more tart). Chop3 or 4 stalks of celery (for crunch) and add to the mixture, also chopped walnuts or pecans. Dissolve one pkg of cherry jello w/one cup boiling water. Mix all together and refrigerate…stir occasionally. It looks pretty in a ring mold. When cranberries are in season, I often mix the berries, orange and sugar – let the sugar dissolve, and freeze that mixture. Later in the year I thaw it, add celery and nuts and jello and enjoy! Not every one in our family likes this, but those who do ‘relish’ it

  • Marcia Rizzo says:

    I wish there was a real low carb/low sugar, i.e., no sugar alcohols version of cranberry sauce so I could eat more of it more often.

  • Alannah Mozisek says:

    Cranberry sauce, cheddar cheese and Ritz crackers have been a year round snack for me for over 60 years!!!!!

  • Gary D. Murphy says:

    What happened to your Cranberry/Raspberry sauce? It was my favorite and I have not been able to find it for several years. If I can still buy it, tell me where! Please.

  • Marcia says:

    Ive never had any desire to buy, serve or eat canned cranberries. I make my Mom’s relish every year using a bag of cranberries, chopped add one finely chopped apple and finely diced orange. Mix in sugar to taste, I like mine tart. Great with turkey❣️

  • Dave says:

    I enjoy jellied cranberry sauce as a side dish for many meals and not only a must for the holidays I enjoy a wrap consisting of warming a flour tortilla apply a thin layer of mayo down the center followed with thin slices of turkey, a layer of jellied cranberry sauce and lettuce.

  • Dorothy Miller says:

    I eat cranberry sauce every time I have chicken or turkey, could be a full meal or even a chicken or turkey sandwich I have to have my cranberry sauce with it. Yummy.

  • Shannon says:

    Cranberry sauce is a must at my Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner everyone loves it. We have to get three or four cans to feed my crew, then that’s barely enough. My mother in law made a cranberry cake for my youngest and cut letters out of the sauce and placed on top it was delicious. She can make anything out of anything and make it great.

  • Eileen heaster says:

    All the side dishes that go with turkey and ham are all good on thanksgiving day,and desserts are too.

  • Teresa Keightley says:

    My Thanksgiving meal is nothing without cranberry sauce. My son, and youngest grand daughter are the only two that will eat it on that day with me.

  • Omajayne says:

    WOW! I make a relish with 2 bags cranberries, 2 seedless and thin skin oranges, 10 oz. crushed pineapple, drained, all processed to a good consistency. Add 2-4 cups sugar, dash kosher salt, lemon zest. Combine until sugar has dissolved. Add chopped walnuts or pecans. So good not only on Thanksgiving, but good with cottage cheese.
    I buy bags of Cranberries and freeze for the relish all year. YUMMY!

  • Susan Olynick says:

    I can take it or leave it during the dinner, but jellied cranberry sauce is a “must have” on the mountain of turkey sandwiches I devour after the meal!

  • Bob Wolfe says:

    Make my own from wild berries, great on sandwiches too.

  • PhyllisMehler says:

    Forget the turkey !! Give me cranberry sauce!

  • henriette raymond says:

    We juste love ♥ cranberries with turkey and on porc chops , beef ♥

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