Fast, Easy and Delicious Cranberry Canning and Storage Ideas
Cranberries are surprisingly easy to prepare for long-term storage, and they have a pretty long shelf life. The easiest way to store cranberries without refrigeration, drying or freezing is to make a sauce that can be canned in a water bath. Let’s take a look at a simple sauce recipe, along with some other practical tips, that can help you to add a year-round supply of cranberries to your food stockpile.
2 cups of whole, fresh cranberries
¼ cup of water or fresh orange juice
1 cup of sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon of orange zest (optional)
You can either make a smooth or chunky sauce by the amount of berries that you cook and mash up before canning. In both cases, the first step is to wash your cranberries in fresh water and give them a rinse. Repeat as necessary until dirt and debris have been removed from the berries. Put the cranberries in a stockpot, add water until they are covered and put over medium heat. Let the berries simmer for about 10-15 minutes until their skins start to tear open.
Once the skin splits, you can either leave the berries whole, mash or puree them according to your preferences. If you are looking to get a very smooth and virtually seedless sauce, run the berries through a food mill before canning. In any case, the trick is to make sure that the berries are soft enough to process but not over-cooked.
Put the cranberries over heat once you’ve processed them and add the sugar. Stir and boil the cranberries until all of the sugar has dissolved. This usually takes about 3-5 minutes depending on berries. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to low and let the berries simmer as you start to ladle them into your canning jars. The jars should be sterilized and heated before you fill them. Fill each jar until ¼ inch of headspace remains and remove any air bubbles. Add more cranberries if necessary, wipe down the rim and attach the lid assemblies. Place in a water bath canner and process for around 15 minutes (adjusting for altitude).
Remove the jars from heat and let cool at room temperature for about 24 hours. Check the seals on the lids before labeling, dating and storing the cranberries.
If you prefer to freeze cranberries, all you need to do is put the sauce or puree into the refrigerator until they have chilled completely. Transfer the sauce into freezer-safe bags or containers before squeezing out as much air as possible. Label and date the cranberries and expect to use them within 6-12 months in most cases. If you refrigerate cranberries, their shelf life is about a week after processing.
Keep in mind that this is just a basic recipe and general outline of how to prepare cranberries for long-term storage. Try it out for yourself today, and see how easy it is to incorporate cranberries into your survival diet. Feel free to improvise and explore different recipes that include adding spices and making relishes in order to make the most of this delicious and nutritious food source.