How do you Thicken Cranberry Relish?

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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When it comes to creating cranberry relish, there is going to be a nice level of creativity that comes with the tangy, sweet flavor pallet of cranberry. 

Not only will you have a nice pure of cranberries, not cooked, of course, but you can add a variety of fruity and other healthy ingredients into the mix. 

It will be in this part of the mixing process that can effectively thicken, thin out, or result in different flavor combinations previously unexperienced. 

This article will explore the various types of cranberry relish, different recipe additions to create different consistencies, and how to make it tasty. 

Cranberry Relish in a white bowl and a slice of lemon on it - How do you thicken it?

Does Cranberry Sauce Thicken after Cooling?

For those that are not privy to the difference between a cranberry sauce and a cranberry relish, it comes down to how each condiment is prepared. 

For instance, a relish is mixed and more an uncooked puree, while a sauce is a cooked side dish, heated to allow for a smoother consistency. 

Depending on whether the sauce was cooked enough, the sauce will thicken as it cools, which is caused by a higher amount of pectin, naturally found in cranberries. 

If there needs to be a step to help thicken the sauce, consider cooling it in the fridge. One could also consider using less sugar or a sweet alternative.


Which Ingredients Make it Thicker?

One such ingredient subtraction would be less water or removing sugar from the basic recipes. These would be the first go-to methods before resorting to adding additional ingredients. 

If you find yourself with a finished product but still need to thicken up the consistency, here are a few ingredients that can help you in this endeavor:


  • Adding butter or cream – reheating the sauce and adding these two ingredients can effectively add thicker liquidity while removing more water via cooking.


  • Jell-O powder – Hear this one out. Find cranberry or a complementary flavored box, and add some of the powder to create a more gelatin consistency. 


Common Mistakes to Avoid

The most common mistake is adding too much water, which can be fixed with the techniques listed above; this allows you to make a mistake or two when experimenting with flavors and various ingredients. 

In addition to this, common mistakes are going to be awful flavor combinations; this is to be expected when stretching out to try new mixtures, be sure that you do not have to finish every concoction. Compost heaps will be more than capable of recycling the ingredients. 

Another common mistake is not being able to distinguish between cranberry sauce and relish, which can be identified by the means by which they are prepared.

Simply put, cranberry sauce requires cooking, while the relish only needs the cranberries and other ingredients to be mixed in a blender. 


Will Cranberry Relish Become Too Thick if it’s Overcooked?

As we distinguished above, the difference between relish and sauces will be the cooking process; with that context in place, there is going to be a temptation to cook the relish and heat it up like salsa. 

Another difference between the relish and sauces is going to be the ‘chunkiness’ of the cranberry concoctions. 

Please avoid this. This borders on cranberry sauce and most outcomes resemble the texture; instead, it becomes creative in the ingredients added to the blender during the mixing processes. 

Undoubtedly the mixture will thicken. If you need to thicken up the cranberry relish, just be sure to avoid making it into a paste. 


For How Long Should you Cook Cranberry Sauce or Relish?

Again, do not cook relish unless for a short boil to help thicken it up. Cranberry sauces can be warmed and prepared on stove tops and will not take longer than fifteen to forty-five minutes to prepare and cook. 

Heating up these sauces will be easy enough to do as a secondary task, such as when preparing Turkey or other dishes for a Thanksgiving day meal or after a long day dessert surprise. 

Consider cooking a cranberry sauce for breakfast meals, including French bread or pancakes, a heated dressing with maple syrup, and a square of butter. 


Final Thoughts on How to Thicken Cranberry Relish

Cranberry relish is a cold-serve item, best for ice cream deserts or late-night beverage garnishes. When it comes to cranberry sauce, the applications become more applicable for Thanksgiving dishes and early morning dishes like crepes and omelets. 

Of course, there are differences, but the possibilities are endless when you think about the different ingredients you can add to good cranberry relish. 

Remember, you cook a sauce but blend a relish; simple distinction for those teaching and learning about these two cranberry dish varieties. 


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