Preserve cranberries this holiday season by canning cranberry juice, a great canning recipe for beginners!
I thoroughly enjoy cranberries, and they go on sale in November and December during the holiday months. Take advantage of the sales and try canning cranberry juice yourself.
There are two ways to can cranberry juice. You can use a juicer and juice the cranberries, or try canning cranberry juice with whole cranberries. I prefer using whole cranberries because it’s much faster and easier, overall, in my experience.
Why would you want to make your own cranberry juice?
Well, for one, you can control the amount of sugar in your juice. Store-bought juice is full of sugar; many times, companies use high fructose corn syrup to sweeten their juices. You control how much sugar is put into this recipe.
Also, it’s affordable! Cranberries, during the holidays, go on sale and typically cost less than $2 per bag. A bag fills two to three quarts, which is more affordable than the quarts of juice at the store.
It’s a win-win!
Let’s take a look at how easy it is to can cranberry juice; it looks like Christmas in a jar. I love how pretty it looks!
What You Need for Canning Cranberry Juice
If this isn’t your first time canning, chances are you will have everything you need for canning cranberry juice. Here are some things to make sure you have.
- Water Bath Canner with a Canning Rack
- Stock Pot
- Canning Funnel
- Headspace Measurer
- Jar Lifter
- Quart Canning Jars with Lids & Rims
- 4-5 Bags of Whole Cranberries
Canning Cranberry Juice: Extracting First
If you want to can plain cranberry juice without any added sugar, you have to extract the juice from fresh or frozen cranberries first. Most canners hold seven quarts for one batch, so you’ll need around three to four pounds of cranberries, but if you want more concentration, use more cranberries.
In fact, if you read different recipes, some suggest up to 3lbs of cranberries per quart! That would be very concentrated.
Most bags in the store are 12oz, so be sure to read the weight before purchasing. You might end up with the wrong amount otherwise.
Extracting the juice takes time, and there are more than one way to do this. A juicer can be used to remove the concentrated juice; I have a juicer because I need it when I make mulberry jelly.
However, if you don’t have one, don’t fret. Here is what you can do instead.
Start by putting all of your cranberries into a large stock pot with four quarts of water. Bring the berries and water to a simmer, cooking for 10 minutes. You’ll notice the cranberries pop, releasing all of their juices.
Then, strain the cooked cranberries through double layers of cheesecloth OR use a jelly bag. Jelly bags are useful to have on hand if you regularly make jellies at home. I use a jelly bag to strain my homemade chicken broth!
I would continue to do several more extractions with your cranberry pulp, or you are wasting a lot. Put the cooked cranberry pulp into the pot with two quarts of water and let simmer down again. Strain again. You also can do a final extraction with one quart of water.
Your goal is to get seven quarts of extracted cranberry juice, and the pulp leftover will be pale compared to its starting point.
Canning Extracted Cranberry Juice
Now that you have all of the extracted cranberry juice, it’s time to can and process the juice.
The extracted and strained juice should stay in a stockpot and be kept warm, simmering but not boiling. At the same time, prepare the water bath canner and soak your jars and lids in hot water.
If you want to add sugar, now is the time to do so. Be sure not to boil, otherwise, you may end up with jelly not juice. It’s suggested to use between 1/4-1/2 cup of sugar per quart jar. Once you add in the sugar, turn off the heat as soon as it’s all combined.
Fill your canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process pints and quarts for 10 minutes, ensuring the water is at a full rolling boil. Elevations above 1,000 feet should process jars for 15 minutes.
Canning Cranberry Juice with Whole Cranberries
Putting whole cranberries in a jar is the quicker way to extract the juice. It will yield a less concentrated juice, so if you more concentrated flavor, go with the extracting with a juicer first. Our family is happy with the juice that comes from whole cranberries.
To be honest, this process is a lot easier; it’s a lot faster, and for me, that is a big part of my decision factor. I’m all about saving time when I put up food into my pantry. However, you have to add sugar to the jars to draw out the juice, so if you want unsweetened, you have to extract first.
Here’s what you need to do; it’s so easy!
Before starting, put a large stockpot of water onto the burner over high heat. It needs to boil, and put your water bath canner, filled with water, on the burner. Jars should be kept hot after thoroughly cleaning.
Begin by adding 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of whole cranberries into each quart jar. I prefer closer to 1 3/4 cups. This is a great job for your kids! I found a single bag has around 3 cups of cranberries, so you’ll get around two quarts per bag.
Put 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar into the jars; adjust this as needed. We prefer 1/2 cup sugar, but if you want it less sweet, try 1/4. You can’t use less than 1/4 cup of sugar because it has to be strong enough to extract the juices from the berries.
Pour boiling water over the cranberries and sugar, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Clean the edges of the jars, removing any sugar that may disrupt a seal. Seal the jars with rims and lids.
Process the jars – pints and quarts – for 25 minutes if under 1,000 feet in elevation. Over 1,000 feet in elevation requires 30-35 minutes for processing.
Using Home Canned Cranberry Juice
You’ll notice, when you remove the jars from the canner, that the juice at the bottom of the jars is still clear. It needs time to infuse and get strong, so home canned jars of juice cannot be used immediately.
You have to wait four to six weeks to drink a quart of cranberry juice. It’s hard to wait, but you want the flavor to be good before you do! Use a fine strainer to remove the berries before drinking; it’s delicious.
How Long Does Canned Cranberry Juice Last?
Home canned cranberry juice lasts around 12 to 18 months on the shelf, but many home canners say the jars easily last up to two years. However, food safety organizations say that most canned goods should be consumed within one year of processing.
Home Canned Cranberry Juice
Canning cranberry juice for the season using whole cranberries rather than extracting the juice
- 5 bags whole cranberries
- 3.5 cups sugar
Start by putting a large stockpot of water to boil on the stove and fill up your water bath canner. Get the water going for that before you start canning the cranberry juice since these steps are fast.
Take clean, warm quart jars and put 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of whole cranberries into each jar.
Put 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar into each jar. This is a matter of personal preference, but you need a minimum of 1/4 cup of sugar in each jar for the extraction process.
Ladle boiling water over top of the cranberries and sugar, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Clean the edges of the jar before putting on the lids and rims, ensuring no sugar is left on the edges.
Process pints and quarts for 25 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.
After processing and cooling, make sure the lids are secure, and store for 4-6 weeks before opening to taste test the juice. The juice needs to be strained to remove the whole berries before drinking.
Try canning cranberry juice this year when the berries go on sale! It’s a great way to preserve the taste of the holidays at the best price of the season. Plus, home canned juice is delicious and a treat for your family throughout the year.