Delicious Christmas Jam: Canning Cranberry Jam Recipe
Christmas jam is one of our favorite sweet treats during the holiday season.
Christmas jam might be my favorite type of jam, aside from strawberry jam. I only make cranberry jam in the winter when fresh cranberries are plentiful (and cheap) in the stores.
The base of my cranberry jam is just like the strawberry jam I make. This recipe is great for beginners, trust me. You really can’t mess this one up!
What I love about this recipe is that its versatile. The list recipe has a sweet cranberry flavor because of the addition of the strawberries and raspberries. You can use more cranberries and less other fruit to make the jam a bit more tart. Another option is to eliminate the raspberries completely and increase the amount of strawberries.
My mother-in-law doesn’t use strawberries at all because her sister is allergic, using raspberries instead. It turns out great as well!
Related: 8 Jam and Jelly Problems & How to Fix Them
What is Christmas Jam?
Christmas jam is a delicious jam made with cranberries and strawberries with various spices, based on your preferences. Some spices you may want to add include:
The jam is sweetened with sugar and thickened with pectin. The combination of fruits and spices work together to taste just like the hoilidays!
One of my favorite thing about Christmas jam is that it can be made with fresh or frozen fruits. While I call this Christmas jam, the reality is you can make it any time of the year. Cranberries go on sale during the holidays, so you can freeze the berries to make later in the year.
Ingredients in Christmas Jam
Let’s take a look at the ingredients used to make cranberry jam. The specific amounts for each item are listed below in the recipe.
- Cranberries: Frozen or fresh works for cranberries. This gives the jam the perfect tartness and holiday flavor.
- Strawberries: Strawberries help decrease the tartness in the strawberries. I use frozen strawberries typically, but fresh work the same.
- Spices: Adding spices is optional; I have made it with or without spices. Cinnamon, allspice, and cloves are warm spices that make the jam have the perfect holiday taste, but you don’t want to overdo it!
- Sugar: While, I suppose you may be able to use a no-sugar pectin, I haven’t tried that yet. My recipe uses several cups of sugar in the recipe.
- Pectin: My recipe uses low sugar pectin, but you can also use regular pectin. It helps thicken and set the jam, and if you want to ensure the results work, I recommend using what I indicated.
Equipment Needed for Christmas Jam
You also have to make sure you have the proper canning equipment needed to make yummy cranberry jam. Here are the things you should have on hand.
- Half-Pint Mason Jars: You’ll get 7 to 8 half-pints of jam with this recipe. I prefer to use half-pints because it’s the ideal amount off jam to store after you open it.
- Water Bath Canner: You don’t need a pressure canner for this recipe. A water bath canner is sufficient and safe.
- Saucepan: You need a saucepan or pot for cooking the jam. Make sure it has plenty of room for the mixture to boil and foam because it does foam up as it cooks down.
- Canning Funnel: A funnel helps the jam get inside the jars without losing too much of the jam. You don’t necessarily HAVE to have a funnel, but it surely makes life easier.
- Canning Tongs: It’s safest to have canning tongs available. Tongs make it easier and safer to take the jars in and out of the canner.
- Other Items: I suggest having a few other things on hand, such as a headspace measurer and potato masher to smash the berries.
Related: Fingertip Tight for Canning: What Does It Even Mean?
Let’s Get Started Making Christmas Jam!
The great thing about making Christmas jam is that it’s incredibly simple. Once you have all of your equipment and ingredients with you, you’ll have jars of delicious holiday jam in less than an hour.
You can’t beat that!
Let’s get started.
Start off by dicing up your strawberries into chunks. You could dice up the cranberries if you wanted, but that’s not a step I ever take. Some might want to put them in a food processor, or take the lazy road like me and leave them whole.
Put all of the fruits into your large, non-stick pot.
Let the fruits cook together, blending all of those yummy flavors together. You should have the heat on medium or medium-high heat. Stirring often is important to reduce burning, and you need to mash up all of those fruits. I use the bottom of a metal ladle.
If you want to add any spices and orange zest, now is a great time to do so. It gives the spices plenty of time to blend together.
Once the fruit starts to bubble and the fruit is mostly liquid, I mix one cup of sugar and the box of low sugar pectin together. Doing so helps the pectin blend better into the jam.
I prefer low sugar pectin, but you’re free to use whatever you want. I like the flavor of the fruit to shine through, and I feel like too much sugar masks the yummy flavor of the fruit!
Now, stir that pectin/sugar mixture into the fruit. Whisk well! Then, slowly add the remaining 2.5 cups of sugar. Add the lemon juice. Bring the jam to a rolling boil. Stir for one minute as the jam boils, then remove from heat.
Ladle the hot jam into clean, warm jars. Leave 1/4 inch headspace and process. Pints need 10 minutes and quarts 15 minutes!
Storing Christmas Jam
After you check the seals on the jar, move the jars to a cool, dark, dry location in your house. Cabinets or your pantry work great!
Home canned jam typically lasts up to one year, per the USDA, but most home canners will tell you that the shelf life is considerably longer. I often make large batches and have it for two season.
The perfect jam for the holidays and wintertime!
- 3 Cups Cranberries, Fresh
- 2 Cups Strawberries, Fresh, Sliced
- Cinnamon, Allspice, Cloves (optional)
- Orange Zest (Optional)
- 3 1/2 Cups Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
- 1 Box Low-Sugar Pectin
First, dice up the strawberries into manageable pieces. Put the cranberries, strawberries, and raspberries into a large non-stick pot.
Next, heat the fruit up in a large, non-stick pot over medium-high heat, stirring and mashing often. You want to break down the fruit with a metal or wooden spoon. Make sure to stir frequently to decrease the risk of burning!
Now is a great time to add whatever spices you want to add. It's totally okay to not add any spices if you want, and consider adding a bit of orange zest if you prefer as well.
Once the fruit is heated up and starts to boil, mix one cup of sugar and the box of pectin in a separate bowl. Gently pour into the fruit and whisk well, eliminating any lumps.
Stir the remaining 2 1/2 cups of sugar into the mixture, one cup at a time. Whisk well each time.
After all of the sugar is mixed in, add the lemon juice.
Bring the jam up to a rolling boil and let boil for one minute as you stir continually. DO NOT stop stirring. You can burn the jam at this point.
Remove from heat. Ladle into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process half pints and pints for 10 minutes, 15 minutes for quarts.