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How to make crabapple conserve (directions, recipe, canning, with photos and free)

How to make cranberry conserve (directions, recipe, canning, with photos and free)

cranberry  conserve, also known as cranberry jam or even cranberry jelly, if you filter it, is easy and safe to make at home. Wouldn't you rather have fresh, preservative-free homemade Cranberry Conserve? From start to finish it only takes about 45 minutes. You can make it with no sugar (very tart), some sugar (sweet), or a natural sweetener, like honey, or a sugar substitute (like Stevia , or if you prefer, Splenda), as you prefer!

You can store this in the fridge, can it to store in the pantry, or freeze it. It is easy to make and can, if you want some for later! Here's how to do it, complete instructions in easy steps and completely illustrated.

Prepared this way, the canned jars have a shelf life of 12 months to 18 months, and require no special attention.

If you would rather make jellied cranberry sauce, see this page!


Directions for Making Cranberry Conserve

Yield: About 4 half-pint jars


  • 1 bag (12 oz, ) Cranberries (1 quart of berries by volume)
  • 1 unpeeled, finely chopped orange
  • 1 cup water, cranberry juice or orange juice
  • 3 cups sugar.  You can substitute 2.5 cups of honey or agave, instead of sugar. If you use Stevia or Splenda, you may want to add a half-packet of no-sugar needed pectin to ensure it thickens up, see pectin below.
  • 1/2 cup seedless raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (usually walnuts, but you can use pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, etc.) These are optional.
  • Optional: 1 box Pectin  (no sugar needed type pectin work best) Pectin is not needed  if you use sugar as the sweetener. If you use an artificial sweetener or honey, you will need pectin to get a set (jell). Pectin is a natural product, made from apples and available at grocery stores (season - spring through late summer) and local "big box" stores. It usually goes for about $2.00 to $2.50 per box. Note: 1 packet of dry pectins is equal to 3 Tablespoons of pectin.  See here for more information about how to choose the type of pectin to use.

If you plan to can it for later:

  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)
  • Lid lifter (I like the lid rack that holds 12 lids or you can pull them out one at a time with the lid-lifter that has a magnet from the almost-boiling water where you sanitize them. ($4 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates)t)
  • Jar funnel ($4 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates)t)
  • At least 1 large pot
  • Large spoons and ladles,
  • Widemouth Ball jars (Publix, Kroger, other grocery stores and some "big box" stores carry them - now about $12 per dozen quart jars (up 50% in 2 years!) including the lids and rings). You can use regular canning jars, but the wide moth make it easier to get the cranberry sauce out later, intact
  • 1 water bath canner (a huge pot with a lifting rack to sanitize the jars of jellied cranberry sauce after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates) You CAN use a large pot instead, but the canners are deeper, and have a rack top make lifting the jars out easier. If you plan on canning every year, they're worth the investment.

Recipe and Directions

Step 1 - Get your cranberries

There are very few places to pick your own, but happily, they store and transport well, so there probably isn't much difference.  Most grocery stores sell the 12 oz bags. Look for firm berries with a dark color.


Canning jars in the dishwasher

Step 2 - If you are canning: Wash the jars and lids

Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used. Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot Cranberry Conserve.

Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 10 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.

Step 2- Wash the cranberries

Pour them in to a large bowl of cold water, and swirl them around, scoop them out with your fingers, feeling for any mushy berries, as you scoop.  Discard any mushy, soft berries.

The picture of the 4 berries shows you unripe through ripe.  I'd throw out the one on the far left, but use the other 3.

Step 3 - Wash, chop the orange and start cookingwashing the oranges

Wash the orange in cold water and chop it finely (1/4 inch or smaller pieces), including the peel, but remove the seeds. Combine orange and water; cook rapidly until peel is tender (about 20 minutes).


Step 4 - Add the cranberries, sugar and raisons

Add the cranberries, sugar and raisins. Slowly bring back to boiling, stirring occasionally until sugar (or other choice of sweetener) dissolves. Cook rapidly, almost to the jellying point of 220°F (about 8 minutes). Basically, this means, bring it to a full hard boil and as the mixture thickens, stir it frequently to prevent sticking. 

Step 5 - As the mixture starts to thicken, add the nuts

Add nuts during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

If you don't plan to can any jars, you're done!  Just serve warm or cold!

If you want to can for later, continue through to steps 6 and 7.

The conserve does not need any further cooking; just keep it hot until you get enough made to fill the jars you will put into the canner (Canners hold seven jars at once, whether they are quart or pint size)

jars processing in the water bath cannerStep 6 - Fill the jars and process them in the water bath

Fill them to within 1/4 inch of the top, wipe any spilled cranberry sauce of the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them.  Put them in the canner and keep them cover with at least 1 inch of water and boiling. if you are at sea level (up to 1,000 ft) boil pint jars for 15 minutes and quart jars for 20 min. If you are at an altitude of 1,000 feet or more, see the chart below.


Recommended process time for Cranberry Conserve in a boiling water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Half-pints 10 min 15 20

Step 7 - Remove and cool the jars - Done

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight)  You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.

Other Equipment:

From left to right:Canning tools

  1. Jar lifting tongs to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter - to remove lids from the pot of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lids- disposable - you may only use them once
  4. Ring - holds the lids on the jar until after the jars cool - then you remove them, save them and reuse them
  5. Canning Jar funnel - to fill the jars



This document was adapted from "So Easy to Preserve", 5th ed. 2006. Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens. Revised by Elizabeth L. Andress. Ph.D. and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., Extension Foods Specialists.

Tips and feedback

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Deluxe Food Strainer and Sauce Maker

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Recommended process time for Cranberry Conserve in a boiling-water canner.

  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Quart Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 3,000 ft 3,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Pints 15 min 20 20 25
Quarts 20 25 30 35


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