This recipe easy-peasy. It can be made as early as 3 days in advance, freeing up your pots for something else. Just don't start making it an hour before serving, because it needs several hours to chill and firm up.
I have used natural (unsweetened, unfiltered) apple juice in the past, mostly because that's what was in the house. This year I noticed recipes that swear by cider, claiming that it gives the sauce "complexity." There is something to be said for simple, but a dozen perfect strangers can't be wrong ... so I'm offering it here as an alternative.
Likewise, some recipes add orange juice. I prefer lemon. Your call. If you decide to use the juice of the orange, use 1/4 cup, and decrease the apple juice (or cider) to 1/2 cup. And leave a comment letting me know how it tastes.
makes 2 cups
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup natural apple juice
1 bag (12 ozs) cranberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen no need to defrost)
1 Tbl. fresh lemon juice (optional)
Pour apple juice and sugar into a 2 quart saucepan. Heat over medium-high flame, stirring to dissolve sugar.
Meanwhile, drop cranberries into a colander and rinse. Pick over and remove shriveled berries. Remove stems, if any.
When juice mixture comes to a boil, stir in cranberries. Return to boil, then lower heat to simmer. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally but keeping an eye on it in case it foams up and tries to boil over (in which case lower heat and stir it down), until most of the cranberries "pop," about 5-10 minutes.
Immediately remove from heat, or leave on for another 5 minutes if you prefer the berries all popped and very soft. Don't worry if you leave it on the heat too long. In my humble opinion, even mushy sauce is better than canned jello.
Stir in lemon juice. The sauce will be thin, but thickens up as it cools.
Let cool uncovered for 1/2 hour in the saucepan, then transfer to a covered container or serving dish and refrigerate.