The sound of simmering cranberries bursting on the stove is the first of many fall comforts and this simple canning cranberry sauce recipe will certainly take you there.
Making (and Canning) Cranberry Sauce is simple!
You know you’re fully adulating when you realize that fresh cranberry sauce is sooo much better than the store-bought stuff.
There. I said it.
And, when you realize how effortlessly this condiment comes together you’ll come to the same conclusion. So, let’s get to it, shall we? You’re only 3 ingredients and 15 minutes of unfussiness on your stove from this easy upgrade.
What’s the difference between whole berry and jellied cranberry sauce?
Sometimes in life, you have two choices and only one right decision. When those choices are “whole berry” vs “jellied” cranberry sauce don’t you dare think I’m settling that for you! All I’ll say about this recipe is that I grew up watching my southern Louisiana dad eat the jellied kind all my life, but he gave the whole berry sauce an equal, 5-star rating.
The only difference between the whole berry vs. jellied is a matter of texture, not taste! The jellied sauce has simply completely broken down, whereas the whole berry retains a chunkier quality. But whether you prefer whole berry or jellied know that you and I both agree that FRESH is sooo much better.
You’ll love making cranberry sauce because:
- It has a minimal ingredient list
- It’s perfect (and pretty) for your pantry or as a holiday gift
- You’ll have the main ingredient to make whipped cranberry butter to spread over buttermilk biscuits and impress holiday guests, hubby or other hostesses alike!
- It’s a beginner friendly water bath canning recipe that miiiiiiight make you develop a moderate addiction to food preservation (if you aren’t there already)!
How to use leftover Cranberry Sauce
- Do you really, really love bagels? Yeah, me too. Try stirring a heaping tablespoon into your cream cheese topped with a few nuts and a drizzle of honey.
- Use it as a dessert sauce or natural food coloring. The tartness really balances out the sugar from say, a slice of french cheesecake or makes your whipped cream “pink and pretty” with a few whirls.
- Need to switch up chicken or beef? This sauce works as a wonderful glaze and compliments herbs like sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Cranberries are high in natural pectin (the starch that helps gel develop), making the addition of gelatin or pectin 100% unnecessary.
- 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.
- Technically you can totally use frozen cranberries, but I don’t recommend it because they don’t thicken as well as fresh ones. Basically, you’ll end up with a looser sauce. But, if this doesn’t bother you, go for it. Just rinse then cold water first and completely drain. (note: cranberries can be frozen for up to one year)
- Your in-store fresh fruit window is only from late October through late December so stock up while you can.
Simple Cranberry Sauce for Canning | Recipe
Ingredients you’ll need
- 4 cups of sugar
- 4 cups of water (or replace with 4 cups of orange juice)
- 8 cups of fresh cranberries
- 2 cinnamon sticks (optional, to taste)
- 1.5 tbsp orange zest (optional, to taste)
- In a large saucepan, bring equal amounts of water and sugar to a boil over medium heat.
- Stirring periodically, allow the mixture to reach and maintain a rolling boil for 5 minutes.
- Add the cranberries and place the lid on the pot. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes stirring intermittently. You’ll start to hear the cranberries softly popping in the sugar syrup. It’s delightful!
IF YOU ARE MAKING JELLIED CRANBERRY SAUCE: Cut the heat and allow the sauce to cool to the touch. When it does, use an immersion blender to puree.
- Add cinnamon and orange juice zest during the last few minutes of cooking.
- Remove from heat.
How do I store Cranberry Sauce?
Pop this sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.
Can I freeze Cranberry Sauce?
You bet! It’ll keep up to 2 months in an airtight container.
Now, let’s Can it!
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.
First, you’ll need to sterilize your jars. That leads to the question-
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:
- Run the jars through a ‘quick clean’ or ‘sterilization’ cycle in your dishwasher.
- 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.
- 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 this!
Filling your Jars
- Sanitize (directions above) your jars and place them on a dishtowel.
- Grab your funnel and ladle that spicy jalapeno cranberry sauce goodness into the jars, leaving a ¼ inch of headspace.
- Remove any air bubbles by running a long plastic or wooden skewer between the jar and the jam.
- 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.
Processing your jam on the stove
- 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.
- 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).
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 been 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 canned jalapeno sauce will be shelf-stable and keep (unopened) for up to one year. If you’re not canning this, freeze for up to 3 months.
Note: This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite canning cookbooks: The Ball Complete Guide of Home Preserving.