Festive Cumberland Sauce

Cumberland sauce is, to me, a cross between what Americans know as a fruit compote and a fruit chutney. Mustard and shallots add savory elements to the sauce, plus I added cranberries to a traditional Cumberland sauce for the festive aspect! Cause I’m all about festiveness.

Cumberland sauce supposedly originated from Cumbria, in England, which also happens to be the home of sticky toffee pudding! If you’ve never been, it’s worth a visit, and definitely for more than the food.

You can purchase Cumberland sauce, this one sold by Harvey Nichols, (or Harvey Nic’s if you’re and Ab Fab fan!), but home-made is always best.

I included verjus in this recipe. It was the first time I’d opened the bottle. Really good stuff! I had to stop myself from sipping it. (It’s not alcoholic.)

Festive Cumberland Sauce
printable recipe below

1 lemon
2 oranges
2 shallots, peeled, finely chopped
1 teaspoon English mustard
3 ounces ruby port
8 ounces fresh, sorted cranberries
1/2 cup red currant jelly
1 tablespoon verjus

Zest the lemon and oranges and add the zest to a medium-sized saucepan of water that is boiling. Lower the heat to a simmer and remove from the heat after 5 minutes. Pour into a fine sieve and set the zest aside.

Return the saucepan to the stove. Squeeze the oranges and place juice in the saucepan, along with the shallots, mustard, port, and cranberries.

Gently bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until the cranberries have burst.

After about 10-15 minutes, stir in the jelly, zest, and verjus.

Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

It’s truly a sauce, not thick like a compote or chutney, so I put it in a gravy boat.

This sauce is marvelous. You can taste all of the sweet, tart, and savory elements. It was definitely good with turkey, and I can’t wait to serve it with gammon.

note: I’ve seen Cumberland sauce with a demi-glace component, which sounds lovely. Also, one option is to prepare the sauce in a skillet where meat had been seared.


34 thoughts on “Festive Cumberland Sauce

    • It works so well in sauces like this! I love all of the holiday sauces, but I’m the only one who eats them!!!

  • yes indeed cranberries are so festive. we only get them frozen here and that’s only if we’re lucky. they’re hard to find except at christmas for a short time. and not always then.

    • Oh that’s interesting. Things really are different south of the equator, aren’t they. Except there are things like lamb that you can get. And wattleseed!

  • Your jewel-toned sauce is beautiful and I imagine it tastes as good as it looks! I look forward to the return of cranberries in the markets… this will make for a lovely Thanksgiving sauce.

  • Mimi – this sounds like such an elevated cranberries sauce it should be a “must” on the Thanksgiving table! Thanks for the recipe – it’ll definitely be on my Thanksgiving table!

  • Lovely sauce from a lovely place! The English countryside really is ravishingly beautiful.

    Tell us more about the taste of verjuice I’ve seen it mentioned in recipes so any time (Medieval ones in particular) but I’ve never tried it. Didn’t think it actually existed any more. And I’m curious to know what it’s like.

    • Slightly acidic, sort of a white grape and apple flavor. It surprised me. Not a vinegar, and not sweet, so I used it as an acidic component. Now I want to go taste it again. My daughter lived in London for four years, so we visited often and traveled all around England and the UK. Ravishingly beautiful is an understatement, but well said! It truly is.

  • Mimi, I haven’t had Cumberland sauce for ages. What a great idea to pop in cranberries. We don’t see cranberries here, but fresh lingonberries are at the market just now. I’ll be making up a batch of your sauce using lingonberries to have over the holidays.

    • I’ve only had canned lingonberries. I wish I could taste them! We were too early to try huckleberries fresh in Montana, but we bought some huckleberry-infused vodka! Really a nice taste. So many elusive berries around the world!

  • As I usually devour several jars of cranberry sauce here at this time of year (I’m already on jar 2!) this festive cumberland sauce would make a great change from shop bought. Many thanks Mimi! Great pics of Cumberland too. You’ve reminded me how desperate we are here to be allowed out again!

    • Such a beautiful part of England, but there are so many beautiful parts! This sauce was very good, and I believe home-made is best, but since I’m the only condiment-obsessed person here, sometimes I had just relented and bought a jar. Mrs. Bridges has a good ploughman’s chutney.

  • This sounds like a fantastic – and easy – recipe, Mimi! I’m not familiar with verjus..I’ll have to look more into that one. Nevertheless, this sauce on a Thanksgiving table would be perfect!

    • You could just substitute with a good vinegar, or lemon juice. I just wanted to use it! It’s a good sauce – a bit different than your standard cranberry sauces!

  • Well now you’ve inspired me to try Cumberand Sauce, and visit Cumbria! Seriously Mimi, this sauce sounds divine, can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before. What a perfect recipe as we enter the holiday season, this will certainly make it to my Thanksgiving table!

    • I hope you get to England. I had seen France growing up, and with my family traveled to other countries like Italy, Switzerland… but never thought about going to England until my daughter moved to London. And are we glad she did. Now we’ve seen Scotland, Wales, Ireland, as well as parts of England. You can’t compare the beauty of the Lakes District of England, with Alto Adige in northern Italy, or Provence in France. They’re all so different. but there’s just something about the English countryside.

  • This looks so good, Mimi! And I’m not a cranberry sauce fan. But the port in there and the savory notes with the mustard make this really appealing to me. Saving to make for a holiday table someday!

    • Thanks Molly. I had to freeze most of it, which should be fine. But I can’t wait to thaw it out during the holidays and enjoy it then!

  • I haven’t had cumberland sauce since I lived in England! I love the sweet/tangy combination with savory dishes. I need to try this!

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