Cranberries! Just the thought of them evokes memories of Christmas time. Their deep red color and surprising tartness make everything joyous, whether they’re in cookies, in a chutney or cranberry sauce, made into a liqueur, baked in a bread, or even strung on a tree. But one thing I’ve never done before is make a cranberry jelly.
One of the reasons I’ve never made a cranberry jelly before is because I didn’t start canning until this year. 2012. That’s right. I’ve been a little slow getting on the canning bandwagon… maybe it’s the whole thing about botulism and exploding jars in the basement. But I finally did it, and now I can’t stop. Even if it’s just to can a few jars at a time. I’m addicted. And, there’s nothing hard about canning as it turns out!
I discovered this recipe in the book “Gifts from the Kitchen”, by Annie Rigg. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but I’ve discovered, thank goodness, that there’s a little leeway with canning – at least in some aspects. (Not the aspects regarding sanitized jars and water baths!) But I did keep the seasoning exact, because it just sounded perfect. And it is! And this jelly is so perfect for the holidays!!!
Of course I see, and have already experienced, this jelly on toast, but I can also see it on a cheese platter paired with some Manchego or even an English cheddar. I’m so excited….
So here’s the exact recipe as it is in the book:
Spiced Cranberry Jelly
1 1/4 pound fresh cranberries
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
2 star anise
Approximately 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
Place the cranberries in a preserving pan or large saucepan. Remove the zest from the oranges using a vegetable peeler and add to the pan with the squeezed orange juice, the cinnamon stick, cloves, and star anise.
Add 1 1/3 cups water, cover the pan, and set over medium heat to simmer gently for 20-30 minutes, until the cranberries are very tender and have burst.
Remove from the heat and pour the contents of the pan through a jelly bag suspended over a large bowl or pan. Let the cranberries drip through the bag for at least 4 hours, or overnight, but do not be tempted to stir or push them through or the resulting jelly will be cloudy.
The next day, pour the strained cranberry juice into a measuring cup and make a note of the quantity. For every 2 cups of juice you will need 2 1/4 cups of granulated sugar. Return the juice to a clean pan, then add the sugar, and stir over low heat, until it ha dissolved. Increase the heat and boil steadily until setting point has reached.
Pour the jelly into sterilized jars and seal immediately. Label the jars once the jelly is completely cold.