Cranberries are plentiful during the holiday season and are popular in everything from cakes to cocktails from Thanksgiving until the year comes to a close. Once the yuletide season ends, though, so goes cranberry season. Fortunately, for those of us who can’t get enough of the tart little berries, preserving these crimson treasures to enjoy year round is surprisingly easy.
Like other firm berries, cranberries can be prepared for long term storage using a variety of methods. The simplest way to preserve cranberries is probably by freezing. Whole berries can be spread on a baking sheet, frozen and then transferred into Ziploc bags or other airtight containers to be tucked away in the freezer. But when freezer space is limited, freezing large batches may not be practical. Canning cranberries takes a little more effort, but means they can be stored at room temperature for months with little loss of quality.
Cranberries are an acidic fruit and can be canned with little fanfare. Although it is possible to successfully pack them in plain water, using sugar not only adds sweetness, it will help the fruit retain its texture and vibrant color.
This time of year, home-canned cranberries have another advantage. Using decorative jars, canned cranberries make a great homemade gift and, with their stunning color, can also be displayed on the counter or mantle to add a seasonal splash of color to the house.
- 5 cups water
- 3 cups sugar
- 8 cups whole cranberries
Combine water and sugar in a large pot and bring to a hard boil, stirring to make sure sugar completely dissolves.
Add cranberries to pot and cook 3 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, pack cranberries into sterile pint or quart canning jars, leaving 1/2” of head space.
Pour liquid over cranberries to cover.
Cap with lids and bands and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.