Canning Whole Cranberries| Fast Way to Can Cranberries

Canning Whole Cranberries| Fast Way to Can Cranberries

Cranberries are often described as the red gems of fall and the holiday season. But who says they can’t be enjoyed all year, despite their short seasonal debut? Try preserving these tart-tasting treats by canning whole cranberries, a process that can be done in no time at all!   

Sadly, fresh cranberries have a short season.

Cranberry season (October -December) is the perfect time to stock up and preserve them for year-round use. Sure, there are the classic cranberry recipes like traditional cranberry sauce or its spicy partner jalapeno cranberry sauce but cranberries can also be used to make an assortment of dips, flavorful spreads, salsas and turned into a condiment you didn’t even know you were missing on sandwiches and meats glazes. By having the raw ingredients on your shelf waiting to be turned into almost anything, you’ll never want to be without a small fleet of these tart berry treats! 

Favorite Uses for Whole Cranberries

  1. Looking for an autumnal spin on PB&J? This is it. Make your own fall inspired jelly by combining pears, apricots or apples with cranberries. De-lic-ous. 
  2. Dump a few spoonfuls of canned cranberries into your breakfast smoothie for a refreshing, seasonal tasting  cold treat. 
  3. You’ll have a ready arsenal to make sauces or fruit juice or add as a breakfast oatmeal topping on biscuits, oatmeal, or brighten up a crock pot casserole or meat. 

Canning Cranberries Recipe Tips:

Fresh cranberries can be canned raw or hot packed and this recipe shares how to do both. You may be wondering what’s the difference? 

Good question. 

  • If you decide to raw pack, it has the advantage of feeling easier because you’ll just dump raw cranberries into your jars, cover with a sweetened canning liquid and process.
  • But, if you decide to hot pack, the advantage is that you’ll be able to fit more cranberries into the jar (which is my preference). I’ve done both with no discernable difference in the final product, so it’s truly your choice! 
  • Also, be sure to inspect your berries and discard those that are shriveled, soft or wrinkly. For best results, you’ll only want to use those that are firm with a glossy yellowish red color and skin. 

What type of canning liquid do you prefer? Syrup? Water? Juice? Light? Heavy?

Seriously, tho’. I’m really asking. I know this whole initiating conversation via the internet is not optimal, but work with a sista’. I’m here to be your guide and encourager, but only YOU should determine what you want/need. Here’s the jist:

You have several options when it comes to choosing a canning liquid for your cranberries. If you’re looking for a sugar-free option, using just water is fine but it’ll extract more of the cranberry taste into the water and will be less firm than what you’re accustomed to. Whenever you decide to go without sugar, you’ll need to use the hot pack method.   

Another alternative is to use bottled or frozen fruit juice. Apple, grape, or mango juice compliment cranberry flavors very nicely. All you have to do is bring your juice to a boil in the pot you’ll add the cranberries. 

You can also make your own syrup by combining equal amounts of water and white or brown sugar. While you can substitute other natural syrups like honey, agave nectar, or light-colored corn syrup, it can’t be more than half the total sugar amount you’ll need.

Make Your Own Sugar Syrup!

If this is your first time making a fruit syrup or you are interested in using sweetener alternatives or want to modify the thickness of your syrup, please read Syrups for Canning Fruit, published by National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Note: If you prefer to use artificial sweeteners, wait to add it when you’re serving your cranberries– not during the canning process. This is because the high heat of canning often reduces the sweetness or creates off-tasting flavors.  

Oh, you wanna know what I like to do?

I like to make my own sugar syrup.

Curious? Let’s get to it. 

Steps to Make Sugar Syrup 

Cranberry Sugar Syrup Recipe

The perfect sugar syrup is truly guided by your preference, but here's your starting point!
Prep Time5 minutes


  • In a sauce pan bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
  • Add 1/2 cup of sugar (for a lighter syrup) or up to 1 cup of sugar (for a heavier syrup). 
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, continously stirring to completely dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, take out a tasting spoon and try it, hun'.
  • Immediately proceed to the 'raw pack' or 'hot pack' method described below!

Canning the Cranberries

If you’ve come to the conclusion that this recipe deserves shelf space in your pantry year-round consider preserving them by completing a quick 15-minute water bath. No special equipment is required. 

You’ve got two options: Raw Pack or Hot Pack.

Don’t overthink this.

A raw pack is exactly what it sounds like. It’s when you literally take uncooked cranberries and dump them in jars. The plus is that it’s quick. The downside is that once you add your hot liquid you fit significantly fewer berries in the jar.

My preference? Hot pack.


Because I stuff as many berries as possible into my jars. Weeks or months later I want a jar to give me a hefty portion of cranberries, not just the juice. The extra minute or two it takes to dump the cranberries into the sugar syrup and let them plump up is worth it to me. but let’s be clear-both work just fine. If you don’t have an ample supply of jars, economize and go the hot pack route.


Raw Pack: Fill sterilized jars with raw cranberries, shaking the jar to settle the berries as you fill. Pour hot sugar syrup over berries (or water) leaving 1/2-inch of headspace.  Process pint-sized jars for 15 minutes or quart-sized jars for 20 minutes (at 0 to 1000 feet)


Follow the steps below!


Canning Whole Cranberries Recipe

Looking for an easy recipe to can whole cranberries you'll have on hand for…whatever? This is it! Follow the steps below@
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Anytime
Servings 3 Pints


  • Using a slotted spoon, pour raw cranberries into a hot pot of sugar syrup and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Grab your funnel and slotted spoon, add those dark red rubies into sterilized jars. Then pour the syrup on top leaving a ¼ inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles by running a long plastic or wooden skewer between the jar and the cranberries. 
  • Wipe the rims of the jars with vinegar to remove any spillage (which can prevent your jars from creating a seal). 
  • Secure the rings to the top of your jar until they are “fingertip tight”–secured but air still has room to pass through. 
  • Using a jar rack or plate, lower the jars into the boiling water of your water bath canner. Pour in more water to ensure that the water covers at least an inch above your jars.Place the lid on your pot. With this process, pints and quarts have the same processing time of 15 minutes (at 0 to 1,000 feet). So, bring water to a full  boil  for 15 minutes, then use a jar lifting to remove the jars out of the water and let them cool on a towel undisturbed for a minimum of 8 hours. (note: do not tighten the caps or you’ll risk breaking the seal). 
Keyword Canning Cranberries

How do I store Whole Cranberries?  

Pop this sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days. 

Can I freeze Whole Cranberries?

Absolutely! “They” say they’ll keep up to 3 months in an airtight container, but mine still tastes wonderful upwards of 5-6 months. Jus’ being honest.

Wait, How do I Sterilize my Jars?

Sterilizing your jars is a quick and easy process that destroys the enemies of preservation — bacteria, yeast and fungi so that your food stays fresh and shelf-stable for 12 months (or more). It’s not hard to do at all. Below, I’ve shared several options, pick your preference: 

  1. Run the jars through a ‘quick clean’ or ‘sterilization’ cycle in your dishwasher. 
  2. Place the jars in a large pot (12 quart or larger) of water on top of a steaming rack (so they don’t touch the bottom of the pan), and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. Remove hot jars right before use. 
  3. Or hand wash and rinse the jars, dry them, and place them (without lids or rings) in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.

You’ve got it, honey!

When are the jars ready?

 As your jars cool, you’ll hear the jars making clicking pops.  Leave the jars undisturbed on a towel for a minimum of 12-24 hours. After that, you can confirm the jars have sealed by removing the rings. A sealed jar lid will remain secured to the jar without the rim and be slightly indented in the center. Use your index finger to moderately tap on the jar in a few places, it should not pop back when pressed. The majority of your jars will seal within a few hours of cooling down. If you have any jars that didn’t seal properly, just store them in the fridge and use them within the months. 

When does this sauce expire? 

Your whole cranberries will be shelf-stable and keep (unopened) for up to one year. If you’re not canning this, freeze for up to 3 months. 

Craving more cranberry recipes? Don’t miss out on my Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce or Honey Fermented Cranberries recipes,  which are just as simple, sweet and savory. 

Happy Cranberry Canning,


Note: This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite canning cookbooks: The Ball Complete Guide of Home Preserving. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating