There is nothing better on hot biscuits on a holiday morning than this homemade cranberry jam recipe!
It’s a delicious spread that is easy to make, and pulls double duty in place of cranberry jelly at Thanksgiving dinner!
I like to make a large batch to can and have on hand for breakfast throughout the winter.
I’ll be honest, cranberries never factored into my flavor pallet as a kid. Even for Thanksgiving dinner, we’d serve the obligatory canned cranberry jelly, but it hardly even got nibbled on before being tossed to make room in the fridge for the real leftovers.
Nope. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I discovered the delicious versatility that is the cranberry, and now I stock up on them each holiday season. I routinely use them in our favorite brussels sprouts dish, make gluten-free cranberry breakfast muffins, a delicious, festive gluten free cranberry kitchen, and now, this cranberry jam (also called cranberry butter).
I already mentioned it, but it’s worth repeating; this stuff is fabulous on hot biscuits. It’s sweet, but tart, fruity, but also warm and cinnamon-spicy.
Cranberry Jam Recipe
What makes it even better is that you only need a few, simple ingredients; cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and cinnamon.
And we have canning instructions here too – don’t worry, canning is even easier to can than making it.
Combine all the ingredients together in a sauce pan or dutch oven, and stir them together.
Bring them to a simmer, and cook until the cranberries are soft and start to burst.
Use an immersion blender to blend the cranberries, or transfer to a blender (it’s hot, so be careful!), and blend in batches.
Place back over the heat, and cook down to about the thickness of pudding or apple butter, like this homemade caramel apple butter.
You might be tempted to keep cooking it down to thicken it, but don’t worry, it’ll thicken up as it cools.
At this point, you can transfer the cranberry jam to containers, let it cool, and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks
Or, you can can it.
To do this, simply fill sterilized jars with the cranberry jam, fit with lids and rings, and process in a water bath canner.
Fill the canner 2/3 full of water, and insert the rack, which seperates your jars from the heat source.
For hot jars of jam, heat the water before adding them, for jars that have cooled off, use cool water.
In either case, make sure your jars are covered by at least an inch of water.
Cover the pot with a lid, and bring to a rolling boil.
For half pints, boil for 10 minutes, and for pints, 15 minutes.
Remove from heat, and let cool at least 30 minutes before removing the lid and taking the jars out, carefully, keeping away from cold drafts, which can cause breakage.
I like to cover my hot jars with a towel to protect them from temperature changes.
Let’s get to some FAQs.
Can you use a pressure canner?
Most jams and jellies don’t survive pressure canning because the excess heat breaks down the gel. This cranberry jam recipe is a little different in that we’re not really depending on pectin for the gel so much as cooking the fruit down until it’s thick.
That said, I haven’t tried it, so the short answer is; I don’t know. In my opinion, there’s really no point in using a pressure canner, since the water bath processing time is so short.
Should I use fresh, or frozen cranberries?
Either! During the fall holiday season, fresh cranberries are easy (and cheap) to find, but other times of year, you may only be able to find them frozen. Cranberries are one of those fruits that freeze really well and you’ll barely notice a difference in the fruit itself, let alone the finished cranberry jam.
Can I use something other than sugar?
Raw sugar or turbinado is great in this recipe! You get a slight hint of the added richness of the blackstrap that hasn’t been processed out.
Coconut sugar could also work.
Maple syrup or agave would taste fine, but might result in a thinner texture. That’s is fine if that’s your preference.
Personally, I wouldn’t use honey because of the high temperatures, but that’s just me. Cooked honey is just another sugar.
What if I don’t want to use orange juice?
Another great substitute, with a more mild flavor would be apple juice or cider. I like the way orange pairs with cranberries, but if you like apple, hey, it’s your cranberry butter!
That’s about it for now. Below you’ll find the printable recipe card, and a quick video tutorial.
Cranberry Jam Recipe
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- 24 oz. cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 cup orange juice
- 4 half pint jars, sterilized
- Rings and lids, sterilized
- Waterbath canning kettle
- Combine all ingredients in a 4 quart sauce pot
- Bring to a simmer and cook until cranberries burst and are soft
- Blend mixture with an immersion blender, or carefully transfer to a blender or food processor in batches, and blend until smooth. Be careful, it’s hot!
- Transfer back to pot and bring back to a gentle simmer
- Cook for 10-15 minutes, uncovered, until sauce is thickened to about the consistency of apple butter
- Ladle hot cranberry butter into half pint jars
- Wipe lids with a clean, damp cloth, making sure they are free of debris
- Place lids on jars, and screw rings down firmly
- Fill canning kettle with 5+ inches of hot water, and make sure the inner rack is in place
- Place jars in canner, making sure they are covered by at least an inch of water
- Cover canner with lid, and bring to a rolling boil
- Continue boiling for 10 minutes
- Remove from heat, and let canner cool
- It’s best if you can leave the jars in the canner until they are completely cool, but if you need the canner for another batch, remove the lid to speed the cooling process, and let cool naturally as long as possible.
- Then, use a jar lifter to remove the jars, using your other hand to place a heavy towel between yourself and the hot jar in case of breakage and hot splatter
- Set jars on a towel-lined cupboard, and cover with another towel to protect from drafts until cool
- When jars are cool, sealed jars can be moved to storage. rings may be removed after 24 hours.
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wonderful cook says
This cranberry jam looks so easy and tempting! Definitely gonna try soon! Thanks Elise!