02 December 2013

Holiday home canning: rustic honey-cran sauce

We're a day late and a dollar short at the homestead here, posting this recipe the week after Thanksgiving. (Marisa at Food in Jars was more timely with her enviably tasty spiced cranberry jam a few weeks ago.) But cranberries are still on store shelves, and a lot of people will serve cranberries with Christmas dinner in a few weeks' time, so maybe a couple of readers will find this recipe useful still.

I'd promised to supply the cranberry sauce at my family's Thanksgiving gathering last week. As I set out my canning gear and the sauce ingredients, I found that I was short on sugar. I had some honey kicking around, though, so I improvised a little. Now, usually you want to be wary about varying from a USDA-tested recipe when you decide to home-can and store your final product. But I wasn't worried at all about safety here, because cranberries are so very tart and acidic that you have quite a bit of leeway before you would bring the sauce's pH up to an unsafe level. And they have so much pectin in them that they're pretty foolproof. In short, you can mess around a lot with home-canned cranberry recipes, and the result will almost certainly set up nicely and be safe to eat after keeping forever.

So that I would have enough sauce for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I started with two 12-ounce packages of cranberries. This recipe can be halved, but doing so would make for a very small batch for canning. The yield as presented here is 2 pints, 1 half-pint, and a few ounces left over for immediate use. The end result is a rustically chunky, honey-imbued cranberry sauce that stands up well with turkey and wild game.


  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 12-ounce packages of cranberries, rinsed


    Combine sugar, honey, and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries and bring back to a boil. Cook the cranberries gently for 10 minutes, stirring as necessary. Press berries with a potato masher. Turn off heat and skim foam.

    Fill hot pint and half-pint jars with hot sauce, leaving 1/4 inch headspace, apply lids and bands, and process 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath canner.

    Use immediately, or let sit a few weeks for flavors to blend.

    Note: If you don't skim the foam from top of the sauce, then it will end up in the jars, and you'll have artificially full jars. The foam won't be unpleasant to eat, but the sauce won't be as aesthetically pleasing in the jar or on the table. Your best bet is to let the sauce sit for a moment after you take it off the heat and then run a large spoon over the surface, generously scooping out foam. I like to drop it into a small bowl and use it on toast or an accompaniment to cheese and crackers.
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