Cranberry Aigre Doux


Mr. Paul Virant, author of The Preservation Kitchen, claims that aigre-doux means sweet and sour. He also uses the term mostarda, and there are mostarda recipes in his book as well.

He states that both terms describe “preserves for cheese snobs and wine geeks.” Well that got my attention! They are supposedly not interchangeable terms, but both “frequently mix fruit with wine, vinegar, and spices.” Confusing? Yes, a little.


His book was published in April of 2012. The first recipe that I made from the book that summer was Blueberry Aigre-Doux. It was simply a matter of putting fresh blueberries in canning jars, covering them with a spiced wine “syrup,” then canning the jars. When I was ready to sample the blueberry aigre-doux, I served it with a log of goat cheese and it was fabulous.

He also has recipes for vegetables aigre-doux. I have made and posted on butternut squash aigre-doux; here I used the squash on a salad. The squash was outstanding.


Being that I made the blueberry aigre-doux a few months before I started my blog, there is no photographic evidence of it. But I knew I would be making the cranberry version.

Now I’m making it again. It’s that good.

When my daughter first tasted this cranberry aigre-doux a few years ago when she was visiting, she claimed that “it tastes like Christmas!” That is a perfect description.


Cranberry Aigre-Doux

2 cups plus 3 tablespoons red table wine
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 vanilla beans, split in half with seeds scraped out
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
4 star anise
7 cups or so fresh cranberries

Rinse the cranberries, remove any bad ones, then let them dry on a clean dish towel.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring the wine, honey, vinegar, salt, and vanilla bean pod and seeds to a boil.


I decided to add a cinnamon stick to the wine mixture, even though it’s not in the recipe.

Scald 4 pint jars in a large pot of simmering water fitted with a rack – you will use this pot to process the jars. Right before filling, put the jars on the counter.

Add 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns and 1 star anise to each jar. Extract the vanilla bean haves from the wine-honey liquid and place one in each jar.

Pack in the cranberries, using about 6 ounces per jar. Meanwhile, soak the lids in a pan of hot water to soften the rubber seal.

Transfer the wine-honey liquid to a heat-proof pitcher and pour over the cranberries, leaving a 1/2″ space from the rim of the jar. Check the jars for air pockets, adding more liquid if necessary to fill in gaps. Wipe the rims with a clean towel, seal with the lids, then screw on the bands until snug but not tight.
Place the jars in the pot with the rack and add enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil and process the jars for 15 minutes (start the timer when the water reaches a boil). Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the water for a few minutes. Remove the jars from the water and let cool completely.

The aigre-doux is quite liquid. Mr. Virant suggests that one “strain the liquid and set aside the cranberries. In a small pot over medium heat, reduce the liquid by half. Stir in the cranberries and serve warm.”


He calls it an “ideal holiday condiment.”
I served the cranberry aigre-doux over softened cream cheese.
It is very good with goat cheese as well.

Serve with croissant toasts, as I did, or water crackers.

57 thoughts on “Cranberry Aigre Doux

  1. Oooh this sounds and looks like just my thing. I just looked up tupelo honey, and the online shops sell it for around … 60$. I’m going to have to try this with a light acacia honey, I think.
    I’ve just pulled out my canning jars, too, so this is perfect to make for the Christmas season, I think.

    • You will love it. You have to pick out the peppercorns, so it might be smarter to put them and the allspice in a tiny muslin bag. I wasn’t smart enough to think about doing that! Until now!

  2. Ugh now I miss cranberries even more… Also, are you planning on posting a mostarda recipe? That could be interesting!

    PS I’m back! Don’t know if you remember me but I definitely remember you :)

  3. In Italy my aunts often made vegetables agro dolce which I guess was probably something similar. I was too young to thing of asking for recipes back then 😉 This sounds wonderful and would be lovely on our English Christmas table with cold meats and cheeses. We should have cranberries appearing soon in the shops so will be trying this out!

  4. Sounds like an interesting book. This recipe sure looks interesting! And good. And new to me — thanks for the intro. Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. As both a cheese snob and a wine geek I appreciate the differences in the condiments you describe here. I think your cranberry version is perfect for my T-Gives cheese course. WHich is always a part of my holiday celebration. GREG

  6. Wow Mimi – this is just fantastic. I haven’t been so excited about a recipe for a while. Will go through it in details because I see there were some interesting questions asked too. The blueberry also appeals to me. Do you remember it well enough to know which version you liked better? Cannot wait to try this. So glad you posted it!! xo

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