Monday, November 4, 2013

Cranberry Jam

Have you ever made home made jam? Many people think it's difficult to do, but it's really simple. Of course, it becomes an all day project if you decide to make a metric ton of it, but to make a little batch of jam, just for your family to enjoy, is really a snap! Some jams are more involved than others, and some fruits might need a little extra pectin, but the bottom line is that you're just stewing some fruit with some sugar and flavorings, and boom, you have jam! Easy, huh?
 I like cranberries because there's so much natural pectin in them, you don't need to add any and it thickens up beautifully! Now, to be clear, this is Cranberry JAM...not the Cranberry Sauce that you have with your turkey or chicken dinner. Not that you couldn't serve one in place of the other, but in my humble opinion, the cranberry sauce should be just cranberries, sugar, and water, where the jam is open to adding other flavors, such as cinnamon, or nutmeg, or orange zest, apples, or other fruit juices.
 I like to serve this on a croissant with a little schmear of cream cheese or butter. It's also fabulous on a toasted slice of pound cake! MMM.. doesn't that sound delish? Try it!

2 (12oz) bags of fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
3 cups sugar
2 cups of cranberry juice
1 cup water

Combine all of the ingredients in a large, heavy pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes (jam will continue to thicken as it cools). Pulse jam in food processor or blender. If you have an immersion blender, even better! Jam should be pureed, but still a a little chunky. Be careful not to over process. Just a couple quick pulses will do it! If you don't have a blender, just mash the berries up as best as you can using a large fork or even a potato masher. Store in the fridge.

Instead of using water, you can use apple juice or orange juice. I had a little bit of apple cider left, so I used it up, and then added water to make a cup. Any combination will work, as long as you have a total of 3 cups of liquid.
 Add other flavorings, if you like, such as orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger!
 If you're planning to enjoy the jam right away, there's no need for sterilized jars. You can simply store it in the fridge in a clean airtight container.
 If you're making large batches of jam, you can do the whole canning thing with mason jars. (Directions for canning and processing are included in the box of Ball mason jars.) One of these days, perhaps, I'll do a how-to video on canning and preserving!

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