Cranberries - Preserving the Harvest

Beautiful, Bountiful Washington Cranberries-Photo by Joe Harrell of Westport, WA

Coming Soon to Store Near You!
November is the prime month for cranberries and most Americans only eat cranberries as part of a thanksgiving dinner. Two factors come to my mind-First cranberries are an exceptional source of nutrition in the areas of Vitamin K, C and dietary fiber. Second, once Thanksgiving is in full swing, cranberries get so cheap, it is almost a sin to not stock up. I usually see them at 4-12ounce packages for $1.00 the week after the big event.

Another big plus: A majority of the cranberries in Seattle markets are grown right here in Washington State! Cranberries are not only local food but they are also Native food--cranberries are one of the few fruits that actually originate from North America. So, stock up and get busy!

Visit The Cranberry Coast Association for tons of recipes for fresh cranberries.

Dried Cranberries

1 (12 oz.) bag of cranberries
2 quarts boiling water
1/4 cup sugar or corn syrup

In a bowl, pour boiling water over the cranberries or submerge them in a pot of boiling water with the heat turned off. Let them sit in the water until the skin pops. Do not let the berries boil or the flesh will turn mushy. Drain. If desired, coat the berries with either a light corn syrup or granulated sugar. Transfer the berries to a cooking sheet and place them in a freezer for 2 hours. Freezing the berries helps in breaking down the cell structure promoting faster drying. Put the berries on a mesh sheet in the dehydrator and dry for 10 to 16 hours, depending on the make of the dehydrator, until chewy and with no pockets of moisture.

Store dried cranberries in the freezer. Keep in mind that dried cranberries can be used in place of raisins in recipes!

Cranberry Juice

4 quarts (4 pounds) cranberries
3 to 3 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Bring cranberries and 4 quarts water to a simmer in a large pot. DO NOT BOIL. Simmer 5 minutes, or until most berries burst. Pour berries and juice into damp jelly bag or a colander lined with four layers of clean cheesecloth. Let juice drip into a large bowl. DO NOT squeeze the bag. When you have extracted as much juice as possible from the pulp, return pulp to pot with 2 quarts water. Simmer 2 minutes. Pour this pulp and juice through jelly bag again to extract remaining juice. Place the 2 batches of juice in a large pot. Add sugar to suit your taste and 1 more quart water. Heat to dissolve sugar completely, but do not boil. Quickly pour into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace; seal. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Yields 6 to 7 quarts.

Cranberry Jelly

3 1/2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
1 (2 1/2 ounce) package powdered fruit pectin
4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

In large kettle, combine cranberry juice and pectin. Cook and stir to boiling. Stir in sugar immediately. Bring to full rolling boil. Boil hard 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice. Skim off foam. Pour into hot sterilized jars. Seal. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Makes 6 one half pints.

Drunken Cranberry Sauce

This sauce will keep at least two weeks in the refrigerator.

1 (12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries
1 to 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
1/4 cup bourbon

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine cranberries, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in an 8-inch square pan, and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the cranberries have softened and become juicy. Uncover the pan, and immediately stir in the bourbon. The alcohol will evaporate, leaving just the liquor's warm, smoky essence. Refrigerate the sauce, covered, until ready to serve or pour into hot sterilized jars. Seal. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Makes about 3 half pints.

Honey Cranberry Relish

2 medium oranges
1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen whole cranberries
1 1/2 cup honey

Quarter and slice unpeeled orange, removing seeds. Coarsely chop orange and cranberries. Place in medium saucepan and stir in honey. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Pour hot into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch head space. Adjust caps. Process 15 minutes on a boiling water bath. Makes 4 half pints

Brandied Cranberries

2 (12 ounce) packagse fresh cranberries
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brandy

Heat oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix together cranberries, sugar and brandy in 2-quart casserole. Cover with lid or foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until cranberries are soft. Stir several times during baking. Will keep in the refrigerator up to 1 month or pour hot into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch head space. Adjust caps. Process 15 minutes on a boiling water bath. Makes 6 half pints

Cranberry Rum Sauce

Yield: 6 cups

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 (8-inch) cinnamon stick, broken
6 whole cloves
1/8 teaspoon mace
8 cups cranberries
4 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup golden rum

In a non-reactive Dutch oven, combine sugar and water. Tie cinnamon pieces and cloves in a cheesecloth bag; add to pot along with mace. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until sugar dissolves. Add cranberries and apples. Simmer gently 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until cranberry skins start to break.

Add rum and simmer 10 minutes. The mixture should be thick but cranberries should retain some of their shape. Remove spice bag. Ladle sauce into hot sterilized jars. Wipe jar rims thoroughly. Seal. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Sauce may also be frozen for up to 1 month without processing.

Cranberry Cordial

1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups honey
2 cups vodka
1/2 cup brandy

Coarsely chop the cranberries in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, or chop with a knife. Stir the cranberries and sugar in a large bowl until the berries are well coated. Stir in the remaining ingredients until blended. Pour the mixture into a large glass jar, cover, and store in a cool, dark place for at least 1 month, stirring or shaking the jar every few days.

Before serving, strain the liquid from the cranberries through a fine strainer or dampened cheesecloth. It may be stored tightly covered at room temperature for up to 3 months. Refrigerate it for longer storage. Makes about 4 cups.

Cranberry Lemon Vinegar
Use in fish dishes or on salads.

1 quart white wine vinegar
4 or 6 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Peel of 1 lemon, cut into slices

Combine all ingredients in a glass bottle. Cork and place in a sunny window for 2 to 3 weeks. For giving, tie raffia around the neck of the bottle.