On the road toward self-sufficiency in the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse, I’ve managed to can and preserve tomatoes, beets, and cucumbers, but I imagine no apocalypse is complete without a Vodka cocktail.
This is one of three reasons I decided to try my hand at making cranberry juice on the 4th or July.
The other two reasons? I had three bags of cranberries in the freezer leftover from a 10 for $10 sale at the grocery store about 10 years ago, and, they’re red. You know… 4th of July. I can be patriotic sometimes too.
This recipe comes from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which has become a dog-earred crusty staple in my household. The description even mentions the inevitability of adding this juice to cocktails, and after this I may never see another bottle of Ocean Spray.
In a large, deep saucepan, combine equal parts cranberries and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to boil gently for about 5 minutes (the berries will burst open… don’t be alarmed).
Transfer to a strainer lined with a few layers of damp cheesecloth. Let drip, undisturbed, for about two hours.**
In a clean pan, combine juice with sugar, if desired.* Heat to 190-F and hold at 190 for 5 minutes, without letting it boil.
Ladle hot juice into hot, sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace (2.5 bags of cranberries made about 2 quarts of juice). Center the lid and screw band down fingertip-tight. Place in canner completely covered by water and bring to a boil. Process for 15 minutes. Remove lid and turn heat off, and wait 5 minutes before removing from the canner. Cool on the counter and store.
* To put your portions into perspective, I used about 1 C. of sugar for my 2.5 bags of cranberries, and it’s a little too sweet for my taste.
** This is Ball talking and I didn’t have 2 hours to let the juice drain naturally. Though it’s probably the best practice and I’d never dispute the canning Bible, let’s face it, I let it sit about 30 minutes, squeezed a bunch out manually, and everything seemed to turn out fine.
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