You Can Can Cranberry Juice!

CranberriesOn 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.

Cranberry Juice

  • tumblr_mpgss81P2L1qmywbko1_500Cranberries (fresh of frozen)
  • Water
  • Granulated Sugar (to taste*, optional)


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.

Scones, glorious scones

If I were stranded on a deserted island, and I could bring two things, one of them would be my recipe for Trail Mix Scones.  Now, I realize that there is not an overabundance of brown sugar and pumpkin seeds on deserted islands… I am simply trying to exemplify the importance of this scone in my life.

In fact, baking scones is one of the things I do best, and this quality makes it into every biography I write.

So, it is with great joy that I present to you my cherished recipe for Trail Mix Scones (although, it does make me a little nervous, since I often bring these to impress people at parties).  I originally came across the recipe in the Tribune several years ago when they did a special publication of favorite reader dishes from restaurants around Chicago.  The “Take a Hike Scone” is a schmorgeshborg of ingredients thrown together by the owner of the Bleeding Heart Bakery.  The result: magic.  I loved it instantly because it’s a vegan baking recipe that actually works and even tastes good (I was vegan at the time, and baking is perhaps the biggest challenge as a vegan chef) .

Since that time I’ve modified the recipe to my own liking, with one of the biggest differences being that I make it as a drop scone.  I mean, sure, you could be all fancy, roll out the dough, and cut it in triangles before baking, but honestly, skipping that step doesn’t affect the taste or texture one bit.  Needless to say, these beauties are a staple in our household, and dried cranberries are ALWAYS on the shopping list.

Trail Mix Scones


  • 1 C. (2 sticks) salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2-1/2 C. all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 2/3 C. dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 C. old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 C. dried cranberries
  • 1/4 C. raw pumpkin seeds
  • 4 TB whole flaxseeds
  • 1-1/4 C. soymilk, rice milk or organic non-fat milk


Preheat oven to 375-deg F. Using the dough hook, mix together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, soda, and oats in an electric stand mixer on low-medium speed (*Note: the whole recipe can be mixed by hand, but your wrist will be mighty sore by the end).

Cut the butter into approximately 1-TB chunks and add to mixer while it’s running, until pea-sized chunks are left.  Add dried fruit, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseeds to mixture (*Note: I’ve tried tons of variations…. you can add nuts, coconut, sesame seeds, chocolate chips, raisins… the list goes on, but cranberries, pumpkin seeds and flaxseed is by far my favorite combination).  Add milk and mix until incorporated (dough will by slightly wet).

Scoop out approximately 1/4-C. of mix onto greased cookie sheets with two spoons.  Bake 25-28 minutes and transfer to cooling rack for as long as you can stand it.  Makes 12-15 scones, best enjoyed with a glass of milk or a bitter cup of Joe.

Words of Wisdom:

  • Don’t spend the money on fancy packaging and buy things like Craisins.  Visit your local mercado or fruit market and find the bulk section.  You can get the extras for this recipe for a third of the price this way.
  • You can use cooking spray to grease your cookie sheet, or parchment paper, but I’m not too keen on waste and cooking spray doesn’t cut it for baking since I switched over from Pam to a DIY Misto sprayer.  Best bet: invest in an expensive tub of non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening.  It rocks for greasing baking sheets, and has lasted me a year so far.

Epic baking fail

As much as I enjoy that you believe me to be the queen of domesticity (…because, you do, right???), today I’m zero for two.

Here you see that I’ve overstuffed my slightly-smaller-than-standard loaf pan this morning with a delicious cranberry bread for Thanksgiving.  The lovely char smell now resonating through the house from the globs on the bottom of the stove are making me feel real good about myself.  I guess we’ll just have to eat this one ourselves and make another for “company”.  In spite of this miserable failure, this IS a great recipe:

Lauren’s Mom’s Cranberry Bread


2 C. flour

1 C. sugar

1/2 tsp. each of baking powder, baking soda, and salt

3/4 C. orange juice

2 TB melted butter

1 C. cranberries (frozen, halved, and seeds rinsed out)


Preheat the oven to 350-deg F.  Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add orange juice to melted butter and add to dry ingredients until well incorporated. Fold in cranberries (add chopped walnuts to batter, if desired). Turn into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350-deg F for 60 minutes. This loaf freezes really well.

Add to this failure my previous pat of on the back in processing our jack-o-lantern to make canned pumpkin for homemade breads and pies.  Apparently, the work schedule these days isn’t as conducive to pumpkin processing as it once was, and my brilliant idea to store the roasted inners at room temperature would (five days later) present itself as fermented, white-ish pumpkin goo.  I’ll spare you photo documentation of this, and instead offer you the plan B for “homemade” pumpkin pie.