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Orange Spiced Fermented Cranberry Sauce From Scratch

by Kaitlynn Fenley

Transform your Thanksgiving table with the tart, sweet, and brilliant flavors of this Orange Spiced Fermented Cranberry Sauce From Scratch.

Orange Spiced & Fermented

Cranberry sauce is a must-have side dish on Thanksgiving; my family’s Thanksgiving is no exception. Seven years ago, I made this recipe for my family to replace the high-fructose corn syrup jelly in a can. I remember sitting down at the table for dinner, and my dad looked at me and said, “You’re making this every year.”

This recipe goes beyond cheap canned cranberry sauce and explores making the perfect Orange Spiced Fermented Cranberry Sauce from scratch. I use fresh organic berries, organic sugar, fresh orange juice, warm spices, and a little fermentation to make it unique.

Adding orange juice and spices to cranberries creates a delicious flavor. The citrusy notes complement the tartness of the cranberries, while cinnamon and ginger add warmth and depth. You can experiment with the ratios of spices to find the perfect balance for your taste. However, I swear by the recipe as written.

How do You Thicken Homemade Cranberry Sauce

The ideal consistency is essential for an excellent cranberry sauce.

Instead of using thickeners, you simmer the sauce over low heat to activate the natural pectin in the cranberries. Simmering with sugar also naturally thickens the sauce. Be patient and simmer it on low to give it time to reduce and intensify in flavor.

How to Take the Bitterness Out of Cranberry Sauce

Balancing bitterness is key to creating delicious cranberry sauce. That’s why it is necessary to add sugar. Honey or maple syrup can work, but I think organic cane sugar works the best. You also add acidity and sweetness with the orange juice, and that balances out the flavor.

If you want honey or maple syrup, sub evenly for the sugar. Taste and add more as you go to make sure it’s sweet enough to balance the bitterness.

I have another trick to lessening the bitterness too, fermenting the cranberries overnight.

Fermenting Cranberries Before Cooking

I always lightly ferment my cranberries before cooking them into the sauce. The fermentation process is very simple.

I like to crush the berries a little bit, then add them to a bowl with kombucha and water. Anytime I pass by the bowl of soaking cranberries, I stir it. I let them ferment overnight for 24 hours. Then, I rinse the cranberries and use them in the recipe. (All of these directions are in the recipe card below).

fresh cranberries in a mixture of kombucha and water for fermentation.

How Long Is Homemade Cranberry Sauce Good For?

Freshness is essential when it comes to cranberry sauce. Luckily, it’s naturally acidic. When stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, homemade cranberry sauce can last up to two weeks.

Can I Freeze Homemade Cranberry Sauce?

You can prep even earlier for Thanksgiving or extend the life of your sauce by freezing it for future use. Allow the sauce to cool completely before transferring it to freezer-safe containers, leaving room for expansion, then freeze. When you’re ready to enjoy it, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.

In conclusion, making this recipe from scratch is delicious, nutritious, and rewarding. This side dish is an impressive, real-food addition to any holiday spread.

cooked, deep red cranberry sauce in a pan with a wooden spoon for stirring the sauce.

Orange Spiced Fermented Cranberry Sauce From Scratch

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Transform your Thanksgiving table with the tart, sweet, and brilliant flavors of this Orange Spiced Fermented Cranberry Sauce From Scratch.

  • Author: Kaitlynn Fenley
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 quart
  • Category: sides
  • Method: stove top


for soaking

  • 24 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup kombucha (plain, orange, or lemon flavor)
  • 2 cups water

for the sauce

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 orange slices
  • 2 slices fresh ginger root


  1. While still in the bag, beat the cranberries slightly to crack them. I like to hit the bag with a rolling pin.
  2. Rinse the berries well.
  3. Pour the cranberries into a bowl with the kombucha and water. Stir to combine. Leave it on the counter for 24 hours and stir it occasionally.
  4. The next day, strain the cranberries and add them to a medium pot. Add the orange juice, water, sugar, orange slices, ginger root, and cinnamon sticks.
  5. Bring to a simmer; once it simmers for about 3 minutes, remove the orange slices, ginger root, and cinnamon sticks.
  6. Cook until all of the cranberries have burst and the liquid thickens.
  7. Remove the pot from heat.
  8. Let cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to a bowl or jar to chill in the refrigerator. Note that the cranberry sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
  9. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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Nutrition information is auto-calculated and estimated as close as possible. We are not responsible for any errors. We have tested the recipe for accuracy, but your results may vary.

author avatar
Kaitlynn Fenley Author, Educator, Food Microbiologist
Kaitlynn is a food microbiologist and fermentation expert teaching people how to ferment foods and drinks at home.

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Cindi Kinch November 12, 2023 - 10:41 am

Is it possible to sub water kefir for kombucha? Will it have the same results? I have water kefir on hand.

Kaitlynn Fenley November 12, 2023 - 2:27 pm

yes! water kefir will work great.

John November 14, 2023 - 12:47 pm

Can store bought kombucha work? If so is there a preference? Trying this recipe for Thanksgiving and don’t have time for making the kombucha ourselves.

Kaitlynn Fenley November 14, 2023 - 1:57 pm

Absolutely! Store bought works great. I suggest using a ginger or citrus flavor

Jenny November 15, 2023 - 1:14 pm

Can you soak the cranberries longer than 24hrs? Thanks!

Kaitlynn Fenley November 15, 2023 - 1:18 pm

yes! you can soak them for 72 hours at room temperature, with occasional stirring. any longer and they need to soak in the fridge.