Love it or hate it, canned cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving staple. That’s because it’s a much simpler option than making homemade cranberry sauce, but what exactly is it, and why does it jiggle like that?
While you might believe canned cranberry sauce relies on gelatin to give it that flouncy, bouncy appearance, it’s actually the naturally occurring pectin in the fruit itself.
To understand how the canned stuff gets it wiggle, you’ll need to know how it’s made. Most canned brands combine cranberries, sugar, and water and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the berries have broken down, they’re mashed and strained to get that smooth consistency you’re used to seeing.
When this happens, the natural pectin in the cranberries blends into the mixture. When it’s poured into cans, that’s essentially a mold. As the pectin cools, it takes on the can’s shape, creating that famous tube of cranberry sauce.
Now, whether you enjoy canned cranberry sauce or not, it’s hard to deny just how iconic the Thanksgiving side dish is. According to Smithsonian Magazine, Americans eat roughly 5,000,000 gallons each year, and it’s been around since 1941! Plus, only about 26% of celebrators create their own, more saucy version of the dish.
This year, if you just don’t feel like making your own cranberry sauce, go ahead and grab that can. You won’t be alone, and while it might look a little funny, that jiggly bounce is totally natural.