What Are Cranberry Preserves?

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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
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  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2019
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Just three fruits are native to North America: concord grapes, blueberries and cranberries. After the latter fruit has been harvested in early fall, some freeze the extras for as long as a year, while others submerge them in syrup-filled jars and use a hot-water canner to make cranberry preserves that can last for several years. For more of an impact, some ditch the simple syrup and use a complex blend instead, making a savory salsa or a super-sweet chutney that are ready to use as soon as the jars are opened.

When cranberries are ready for harvest, farmers will flood the coastal areas where they grow to create iconic-looking bogs of the tart, red berries. This flooding floats the cranberries to the surface for easy containment and roundup. What cannot be used immediately in dishes like cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving or in cranberry juice can be frozen or preserved for much later use. The process can be easy or complicated, depending on the desired end result.


The simplest way to make cranberry preserves is to can them in a heavy syrup. According to the University of Georgia's National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP), this is done by boiling a mixture of water and about 40 percent sugar for about three minutes. Then, this is poured over washed cranberries in sterilized jars, leaving 0.5 inch (about 1.3 cm) at the top before closing off the jar tightly with its lid. The jar is then processed in a water canner for about 15 minutes before storage in a cool, dark place. For higher elevations, more time in the canner might be needed, as specified by NCHFP's online canning database for elevation-specific canning times for each type of food.

This heavy syrup is only needed for tart fruits like cranberry preserves. Some other fruits that need heavy syrup are sour apples, nectarines, some peaches and cherries. Most fruits only need a light to medium syrup, from 10 to 30 percent sugar content like non-sour apples, sweet peaches, most berries and grapes.

Many are not content with frozen cranberries or cranberry preserves in simple syrup, preferring some flair instead. A recipe for cranberry orange chutney, available at the NCHFP Web site, has chefs saute cranberries for 15 minutes with vinegar, orange juice, raisins, ginger, chopped onions, granulated and brown sugar, and cinnamon. This is then poured into clean jars, which are capped and processed in a water canner for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the elevation.


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Post 3

@SarahGen-- It depends on what type of flavors you're aiming for. If you want something sweet and warming, cloves, ginger and cinnamon are great additions. If you're looking for a more hot and spicy take on it, then you can try some chili, black pepper, onion, masala or curry.

Spiced cranberry preserves are often referred to as chutney, so you may want to look up cranberry chutney recipes instead of preserves. You will get more ideas this way.

Post 2

What spices suit cranberry preserve the best? I usually make a basic cranberry jam/jelly, but this time I want to try something different.

Post 1

Orange cranberry preserve is my favorite type of preserve. My mom makes some every year and I usually get several jars. It's the perfect preserve for fall and winter because it can be eaten with holiday meals. It's a perfect gift for friends and family as well.

My mom makes a huge batch of the preserve each year and gifts them to family, friends and neighbors. She even made small jars for me last year to gift to coworkers. Everyone loved it.

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