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Pickled Cranberries

These pickled cranberries are a great way to preserve the season’s flavors. Tart and sweet, they aren’t your typical pickled food and they can be used in so many different ways. 

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Jars of pickled cranberries with fresh ginger and cranberries on a board.

Pickles… in some ways, it’s something you either love or hate, but sometimes there’s an in-between. While we absolutely love bread and butter pickles, pickled peppers, and pickled green tomatoes, I can say I was incredibly hesitant to try pickling cranberries. Their tartness mixed in a vinegar brine just seemed like it would be an odd combination. 

But, it isn’t. I was pleasantly surprised with the way these turned out. Even my self-professed cranberry hating middle daughter likes them. Probably because pickles are her thing, but I digress. 

On the other hand, we absolutely love cranberries without hesitation, other than the cranberry hater. Usually, we’re making up batches of cranberry jello salad for the holidays and making some cranberry pork chops to enjoy the fresh, tart flavors of cranberry season. 

Then, we make up some Christmas jam to preserve the flavor for a bit longer into the season. This year, we decided to be a little different and give these pickled cranberries a try.

I’ll admit, the jam used to be my absolute favorite way to preserve cranberries and enjoy that flavor a bit longer, but it’s a close tie with these amazing pickled cranberries now. 

The jars are absolutely beautiful and can be canned for a shelf-stable delicious holiday treat or gift. You can also skip the canning and just make a quick refrigerator pickle if you’d prefer, where they’ll keep for around two months. Either way, I’m positive this will become one of your favorite cranberry recipes. 

But their use doesn’t stop as just a pretty centerpiece for the holiday table. Their flavor is perfect for so many different things. 

Ways to Use Pickled Cranberries

Pickled cranberries in mason jars

I thought the uses for these would be rather limited, but the more I taste them, the more ideas I come up with to use them. Their tart flavor with a touch of spicy sweetness is perfect for so many things, especially during the holiday season. 

  • Serve them alongside your holiday turkey or ham in place, or alongside, traditional cranberry relish. 
  • Put the brine in some sparkling water and make a delicious holiday shrub. 
  • Use in place of fresh cranberries to make some delicious holiday cranberry cocktails
  • Use it in place of the cranberries in my favorite cranberry pork chop recipe for some added flavor. 
  • Since cranberries are high in pectin, the brine gets pretty thick… spread on toast or some homemade biscuits instead of traditional jam. 
  • Toss in a salad for a bright sweet tart addition. 
  • Use them to make a cranberry vinaigrette
  • Toss them with your cooked collards or spinach to brighten the flavors. 

What You Need to Make Pickled Cranberries

As I mentioned, you can skip the canning if you want, but I highly recommend canning these. They’ll last longer, if you don’t eat them all, they make an excellent holiday gift and that way they’re not taking up space in your fridge. 

Ingredients:

Items Needed:

How to Make Pickled Cranberries

Tightening the ring on a jar of pickled cranberries

Whether you’re canning or not, you will need to prepare your jars by sterilizing them in boiling water. Wash them in hot, soapy water then place in a pot of water to boil while you make the pickled cranberries. 

Place the ginger root, allspice, cloves, and cardamom pods in the center of a piece of cheesecloth. Bring up the edges and tie it off with a piece of kitchen twine to create a spice sachet. 

Next, pour water, apple cider vinegar, and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. 

Reduce heat to low, allowing the mixture to simmer. Place the cinnamon sticks and spice sachet in the pot and continue simmering for one minute.

Wash and pick through the fresh cranberries then stir them in. Place the lid on, as cranberries pop when heated. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until cranberries begin to pop and soften and the mixture comes back to a boil.

Discard the cinnamon sticks and spice sachet. 

Using a slotted spoon, place the cranberries in the prepared jars. Ladle the brine over the top, leaving 1/2” of headspace.  

If canning, wipe jar rims, center lids, finger tighten rings and place the jars in a boiling water bath canner. Cover the prepared jars with 2” of water and place the lid on the canner.

Wiping rim of mason jar

Bring canner to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Time will need adjusted at elevations higher than 1,000 feet (see full recipe). 

Remove jars and leave undisturbed for 24 hours before checking for proper seals. 

If not canning, jar up the cranberry mixture, allow the jars to cool to room temp, and place in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for up to two months.

Either way, allow them to sit for three days before enjoying for the best flavor. 

Jars of pickled cranberries with fresh ginger and cranberries on a board.
Yield: Makes 4 Pint Jars

Pickled Cranberries

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Canning Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Tart, sweet, and delicious these pickled cranberries are the perfect addition to your holiday table or cocktail.

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 2/3 Cup Sugar
  • 1 1/3 Cup Water
  • 4 - 12 Oz Bags Cranberries
  • 4 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1 tsp Whole Cloves
  • 1 tsp Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp Allspice
  • 1 tsp Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Inch Piece Fresh Ginger
  • 1 Inch Piece Fresh Ginger

Instructions

  1. Begin by sterilizing four pint jars in a pot of boiling water after washing them with hot, soapy water.
  2. Combine apple cider vinegar, water, and sugar in a pot and begin warming over medium-high heat. Stir and bring to a boil while the sugar dissolves. Then reduce heat to low to simmer.
  3. Place ginger, allspice, cloves, and cardamom pods in a length of cheesecloth. Gather the ends and secure it with a piece of kitchen twine to make a spice sachet. Place the spice sachet and cinnamon sticks in the simmering brine.
  4. Allow the mixture to simmer with the sachet and cinnamon sticks for two minutes.
  5. Add the cranberries to the brine mixture and cover with a lid so the popping fruit doesn't splash you.
  6. Cook the mixture for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, until the cranberries begin to soften and pop and the mixture is boiling once again.
  7. Carefully ladle the cranberries into sterilized jars with a slotted spoon. Top with the brine mixture, leaving 1/2" of headspace.
  8. If canning, wipe jar rims, center lid, and finger-tighten rings. Place back in canner and put lid on top.
  9. Process pints for 10 minutes at 1,000 feet (see notes for additional times)
  10. Remove the canner lid and allow the jars to sit for 5 minutes. Remove to a towel-lined counter and leave undisturbed for 24 hours before checking seals.
  11. If not canning, allow the pickled cranberries to come to room temperature before refrigerating.
  12. Allow to sit for three days before eating for the best flavor.

Notes

1,001 feet to 6,000 feet adjust to 15 minutes processing

Above 6,000 feet 20 minutes processing

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