Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and due to various circumstances, the husband and I will probably be spending the holiday at home. Just the two of us. That means that, even though we will want a Thanksgiving meal, we don't need to cook nearly as much as if, say, we were spending it with family and friends. That also means, that even though cranberry sauce is a must-have in my opinion, there is no way we will eat an entire quart of the stuff. So, I started thinking about canning it. Actually, I've thought about canning it before, just to have on hand, but never got around to it. Now, we can have it on Thanksgiving and several other times throughout the year. Of course, you don't need to wait for a Thanksgiving alone to can cranberry sauce or conserve. Now is the perfect time to do it while fresh berries are available, and then you will have it on hand all year round.
The cranberry sauce I make is more of a conserve with the addition of apples and nuts. If you want to make the conserve without canning, check out last year's post. For the canned version, I used a recipe from National Center for Home Food Preservation which is almost identical to the recipe I have always used. It does make a few changes, which I am sure are there to ensure the safety and longevity of the canned product. The changes include using more sugar (if you use less, the final product may not last as long on the shelf) and limiting the amount of nuts to 1/2 cup. Their version did include raisins which we don't like, so I added an equal amount of chopped apple. The apple will not affect the acidity negatively, but to keep it safe, make sure you do not increase the amount of nuts in the conserve from the amount listed.
The cooking time on this conserve can be anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes once it begins boiling. You are looking for a temperature of 220 degrees (as if you are making jam). You can test it out on a chilled plate to see if it mounds and sets up.
Cranberry Conserve (canned)- makes approx. 5 half pints
adapted slightly from National Center for Home Food Preservation
1 quart (4 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries, picked over and washed
1 cup water
3 cups granulated sugar
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Prepare the canner, jars, lids, and rings.
Place the cranberries, water, sugar, zests, and juices in a skillet over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Cook rapidly, stirring frequently 5 minutes until cranberries begin to pop. Add the apple, and continue cooking, stirring frequently 15-25 minutes until the mixture reaches a temperature of 220 degrees. Five minutes before it reaches the desired temperature, add the pecans. Ladle the mixture into hot, sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles, and wipe the jar rims. Top each jar with a sterilized lid and ring, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars to a towel to cool for 24 hours before labeling and storing.