Jellied Cranberry Sauce.

One of the few remaining pre-packaged foods I couldn’t eliminate from my kitchen was Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce.  I’ve never found anything to replace it (whether it be generic jellied cranberry sauce, or even fresh whole berry cranberry sauce….ick!).  I finally found a recipe, and thanks to the new canner I got for Christmas from Mom and Dad, I was able to try it out this weekend.

Ingredients:

  • 2 12-ounce bags cranberries
  • 1 1/3 cups water (or substitute same amount cranberry juice/orange juice, see below)
  • 2 cups sugar or honey
  • Optional: 1 cup cranberry juice (adds more flavor)
  • Optional: 1/3 cup orange juice (adds more flavor)
  • Optional: 1 box pectin (no sugar needed type pectin works best)
Instructions:
  • If you are canning: wash the jars and lids – wash in soapy water, then boil jars for ten minutes and keep in hot water until used.  Put lids in a pan of hot (but not quite boiled) water for five minutes and use the lid lifter wand to pull them out.
  • Wash the cranberries in cold water, discarding any mushy/soft or unripe berries.
  • Boil water (or cranberry and orange juice) in a pot.
  • Add cranberries to boiling liquid and cook on medium for approximately ten minutes (sauce will be mushy).  Cranberries pop as they cook.
  • Crush and strain the cranberries (a food mill works well for this).
  • Add half a packet of pectin.
  • Bring cranberry mix back to a boil.
  • Add sugar and boil for one minute, then remove from heat.
  • To eat fresh – pour into a mold or dish and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.
  • To jar – fill jars to within 1/2 inch from the top, seat the lid, and tighten the lid around them.
  • Put in the canner and keep covered with at least 1 inch of boiling water.
  • Boil for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the jars and let cool overnight.
  • You can remove the rings or at least loosen them so that they do not rust shut due to trapped moisture.
  • Check that they sealed correctly by pressing down on the lid – if it pops up and down it is not sealed.
  • If you have one that doesn’t seal, it can still be eaten “fresh” (by putting it in the refrigerator right away).
Notes:
  • The original recipe above is WAY too sweet.  Even as I was making it I said to Bob that I couldn’t believe how much sugar I was supposed to add.  But, I didn’t know what canning did to the food so I went with it.  I was able to eat my half with dinner (I think mainly because the rest of the food was salty so it sort of balanced out); Bob picked at his but couldn’t eat all of it.  I think next time I will try halving the amount of sugar and see how it goes.
  • Other than that….amazing, very close to the real thing.  The consistency is a little grittier but still relatively smooth.
  • I honestly can’t remember what the cost factor was for this – I would estimate that having to buy Ocean Spray cranberries off season at full price meant I probably came out about even.  The smart thing to do would be to find somewhere that you could buy 20 or 30 pounds of cranberries in the summer and then make your stash for the year.  For me the reward is controlling the ingredients that go into it, but it would be nice to make it more economical as well!

Addendum:

  • I learned several things the second time I attempted to make this recipe.  #1, you can’t reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe unless you use a “no-sugar” pectin.   If you do, the sauce will not jell correctly.  Also, #2, doubling the batch to make more at one time can also affect how the sauce jells.  Something to do with the boiling point.  So, I unfortunately ended up with 17 jars of not-really-jellied cranberry sauce.  On the bright side it still tasted good, but wasn’t really what I was going for!
  • I did try again with the no-sugar pectin and single batches, and I ended up with 14 jars of good, firmly jelled sauce.
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