So to the last of the Christmas preparations: cranberry sauce (this can be made on the morning, as it only take ca 15 minutes, plus a few hours for the flavours to infuse).
After all that baking, I had enough of sugar. I remembered one of my relatives, who has diabetes, raving about a sugar substitute which is made with a sucrose analogue. This seems to be just the ticket: I reckoned that the analogue isn’t digestible, but would taste the same—maybe something along the lines of L-glucose.
So I went looking for the wonder-sweetener. However, what threw me off was the weight. The package contained exactly 1/10th the weight of a bag of sugar ‘with equivalent sweetness’. Even in its purest form, sucrose (which I used for making gradients in the lab) isn’t very different from sugar. This clearly wasn’t the ‘indigestible sugar’ I was thinking of, but something else entirely.
Sucralose, it turns out, is a modified form of sucrose which is 600 times as sweet. Hence the low weight of the package—99% of which was bulk.
Anyway, I took it home and dipped in a finger. It didn’t taste particularly offensive. Still, 600 times…
I cut the amount from 6 tablespoons (recommended) to 4 and used it for making my cranberry sauce. Big mistake.
Sucralose is no sugar substitute, in the same way that instant coffee is no filter coffee substitute or there is no substitute for butter. Only more so. When added in sugar-equivalent volumes, the stuff tastes bitter—just like any other sweetener. I can taste the difference immediately.
So, I shouldn’t have used it, unless I planned on feeding a diabetic. Stick to good, old sugar!
Unless you are stupid—like me—this recipe is failsafe. Make up to 2 days ahead or freeze.
1 pack (pound) cranberries; zest & juice from 1 orange; 75g sugar; small piece muslin; fingernail-sized piece mace; ½ cinnamon stick; 1 star anise; 1 bay leaf; ½ tsp dried rosemary; fingernail-sized piece stem ginger; 2 tablespoons brandy
Tie the spices into the muslin, like a teabag. Use what you have available, or to taste.
Heat the orange juice with the sugar and stir to just dissolve. Add the spice sachet and zest, then pour the berries on top and simmer, covered, about 5-7 minutes. By then, they will start to pop. Stir them very gently until they have all just about popped, but still retain a bit of their shape. Fish out the spice sachet and stir in the brandy just before the sauce is cool.