Gift in a Jar: Apple-Cranberry Jam


Throughout my childhood and teenage years, my parents’ standard holiday gift for friends and family was a bag of my dad’s homemade pancake mix (in particularly flush years, we’d also gift a bottle of maple syrup). The bag would also contain printed instructions on how to turn the mix into batches of fluffy cakes or waffles. I have it on good authority that people looked forward with great anticipation to those pancake mix gifts.

Over the years, we were also the recipients of many a homemade holiday gift, including jars of lemon curd from our cousins in the Bay Area, bottles of homemade coffee liqueur and divided plastic plates from my dad’s business partner, overflowing with cookies, fudge and caramels, hand-wrapped in squares of waxed paper.

In recent years, as my canning practice has grown, more and more of the holiday gifts I give are home-jarred edibles. This year, I’m planning to give my Philadelphia cousins jars of apple butter and apple-cranberry jam, along with mini-loaves of cranberry bread. If you’d like to give your friends and family their own jars of apple-cranberry jam, the recipe is after the jump (it’d be great with some scones on Christmas morning).

I’ll be posting more ideas for gifts in jars in the coming weeks, in the hopes that I’ll be able to inspire you to give your own gifts in jars this year.

Apple-Cranberry Jam

Yield: 4 1/2 - 5 pints.


  • 8 cups of peeled and diced apple (approximately 5-6 large apples, 1/2 inch dice. Use a softer apple like a Golden Delicious. Firm apples won't cook down as well.)
  • 4 cups of whole cranberries
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced


  1. Combine the apples, cranberries, sugar and water in a large pot (use a big one, this jam will bubble) over high heat. Bring to a boil, skimming off the foam that develops on the top of the fruit. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the cranberries pop and the apples soften.
  2. Add the lemon zest and juice and simmer until the liquid in the pot begins to thicken (because both apples and cranberries are naturally high in pectin, you won't need any additional pectin to help this jam set, as long as you cook it until thick and syrup-y).
  3. Ladle into prepared jars, wipe rims, apply lids and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Label nicely and distribute to those you love.


***I made this jam without the addition of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves or allspice. However, I do believe that the addition of one or two of those spices would be quite nice. If you play around with the flavors, let me know!

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97 Responses to Gift in a Jar: Apple-Cranberry Jam

  1. 1
    Jess says:

    Oooh, sounds tasty! I’m officially inspired to do canned goods as gifts. This reminds me though, my favorite cranberry sauce recipe involves rum. Can alcohol influence canning procedure in any way? I realize that the rum gets cooked off, but not all of it does.

  2. 2
    Liz says:

    Is it possible to reduce the sugar safely?

  3. 3
    Jane says:

    Hi Marisa,

    I do a jam close to this. I also add orange juice (fresh squeeze of course) and toasted pecans, then I throw in 2 cinnamon sticks to give a touch of cinnamon flavor. I’m giving them out tomorrow for Thanksgiving.

    Do you have any clever ideas for giving them. I’m tried of wrapping ribbon or fabric around. But I have a feeling I will be doing that again this year. I’m tapped out of ideas on that one.

    Great blog!

  4. 4
    Chiot's Run says:

    This looks delicious. I’ve been making all kinds of home jarred goodness to give away. This year I have an apple theme, so this would fit in nicely. So far I’ve made: Caramelized Apple Marmalade with Thyme, Overnight Apple Butter and Mulled Cider Jelly. I think this will fit nicely in my gift baskets, thanks for the recipe.

  5. 5
    Marisa says:

    Jess, without seeing the entirety of your cranberry sauce recipe, I can’t tell you whether or not it’s safe to can. However, the fact it includes alcohol wouldn’t prevent it from being canned, as alcohol is a preservative (I used a recipe for canned peaches this year in which the top of each jar is topped off with a splash of brandy).
    Liz, unfortunately, this recipe needs all the sugar that I’ve included. The thing to remember is that jam making is part candy making, you need the sugar to react with the fruit juices, thicken and turn into the syrup, which will then give you that nice, jammy consistency. If you reduce the sugar too much, you don’t have jam anymore, you have a apple cranberry butter (which could certainly be delicious, but that’s not the recipe I’m offering here).

    Jane, that jam sounds delicious! As far as wrapping the jars, I’m not always the best resource, I tend to label mine with a Sharpie and pass them out without any further adornment. However, you could try switching to tying them with raffia and a little note. If you have an inexpensive source of vintage silver spoons (you can often get them at the thrift store for $.50 a piece), clean one up and tie one to the jar.
    Chiot’s Run, I’m so glad to offer a recipe that works with your theme! And I’ve been salivating over your Mulled Cider Jelly since I first saw you mention it on your blog. Sounds amazing!

  6. 6
    Sarah says:

    This looks fantastic. Love your blog. I noticed you don’t use any pectin even pomona’s – does this recipe not need it? Also how long does this stay good for?


  7. 7
    Deeza says:

    This sounds delicious! Also very festive, and great for gifts. Do you peel the apples before cooking? I’ve never made jam before – do you need to press it through a strainer like applesauce? Or does all the fruit that goes into the pot also goes into the jar…?

  8. 8
    Marisa says:

    Sarah, cranberries and apples are really high in pectin, so no additional pectin in needed for this recipe. This jam will be good for at least a year.

    Deeza, you do peel the apples before cooking. My apologies for leaving that out of the recipe (I’ve amended it to include that). But other than the, the instructions are complete. All the fruit, once cooked, goes straight into the jars.

  9. 9

    Perfect for Christmas! I just made some cranberry jam the other day, but I bet it would be so much better with apples. Can’t wait to try this.

  10. 10
    tigress says:

    hi marisa!

    giving jarred gifts is the best part of all, isn’t it?
    -i’m kicking myself for not buying a heap of cranberries at the farmer’s market this past weekend…:(

    have a wonderful thanksgiving!

  11. 11
    Rcakewalk says:

    Thanks! This was the one I was waiting for, now just to find some time…

  12. 12
    Chiot's Run says:

    I just made a batch of this as chutney instead of Jam. I reduced the sugar to 3 cups, added a vanilla bean, a few cinnamon sticks and a half cup of apple cider vinegar. I also added cider instead of water. It’s delicious as a side for Thanksgiving! Thanks for the recipe! (I think it could do with even a little less sugar, perhaps next time).

  13. 13
    Lauren says:

    I’m giving my Dad a huge assortment of home canned yummies this year, from lemon ginger marmalade, to roasted habanero honey, to pickled plums! I’m just about to head out to the market to buy apples and maple syrup for Maple Apple Butter, yum!! I’m going to pack all the jars (about a dozen or so) in a pretty rectangular basket lined with some nice new teatowels. I’m also going to include hand printed cards that say what each item can be used for (my Dad would probably try to put the habanero honey on toast, probably not the best idea….).

  14. 14

    Sounds delicious, and the perfect holiday gift. This would be great for co-workers and neighbors plus I know I’ll have some leftover for myself. My mom makes a great cranberry bread, and this would be a wonderful accompaniment.

  15. 15
    Kate says:

    This is so yummy! Marisa, my Mom and Ed made it together this weekend and it is fabulous! Thanks for the recipe!

  16. 16
    Amanda says:

    This was my first foray into jam-making. I plan to make two more batches to give as gifts. Thanks for the recipe!

  17. 17
    Rcakewalk says:

    I found some time, and just got done making this- really delicious! I saved out a couple jelly jars to eat right away, and I know this is going to sweeten my plain yogurt really nice. I did add about a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger, and a pinch of salt and Jamican allspice. It is sweet, but so Christmassy! Next time I may use some grated ginger instead of the ground- I was out this time.

  18. 18
    Chon says:

    We just made these for gifts and my kids loved it so much I need to make a second batch for personal use. Thanks for posting the recipe.

  19. 19
    Lisa says:

    I love your blog — so glad I found it! And, this recipe …. and all of your fans’ comments – this will be my first time attempting to jar. I am wondering if it is possible to use agave or another substitute (nothing fake!) instead of the sugar to make jams and/or for future canning recipes that call for sugar? Thanks for your expertise!

  20. 20
    Marisa says:

    Lisa, the thing to remember about making jam is that it is in part a process of candy making. You need the sugar to combine with the fruit juices and then react with the heat in order to thicken. The way this recipe is written, it depends on it.

    However, if you’re really interested in making it with a natural sugar substitute, you should look into Pomona pectin, which is designed to work with alternate sweeteners.

  21. 21
    Maureen says:

    YUMMY!!! And a great way to use the leftover cranberries from Thanksgiving. This is going into a basket with homemade bread, thanks for the recipe.

    ps. care to share the pancake mix recipe as well?

  22. 22

    […] jam. It’s an apple-cranberry jam, spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and allspice, and based on this recipe at Food in  Jars, my new favorite blog.  All I did to change it (besides halving the recipe) was to add the spices, […]

  23. 23
    Zoe says:

    Marisa, I recently made apple pie and peeled-diced WAY too many apples. I boiled them down into an applesauce thinking I’d like to make apple butter, but this looks mighty appealing too. Do you think I could get away with boiling the cranberries sugar and water separately (since I already made the apple sauce) and then combining to make the jam? Or is that just cray-zy?

  24. 24

    […] Meanwhile, I’d love to hear how your holiday preparations are going (I passed out jars of Apple-Cranberry Jam, Apple Butter and the Rosemary-Maple Nuts at my family’s Hanukkah party last night to a crowd […]

  25. 25
    Nette says:

    I used this recipe to much success. Your note about using soft apples is a good one- I made three batches, and used honeycrisp apples for the last one- they took much longer to cook down, and I ended up using a potato masher to break them up. However, thanks to the longer cooking time, this batch is darker, richer and more intensely flavored (yum- this batch I am keeping mostly for myself!).

    To add to a commentor’s question about decorating, I have a 2″ round hole punch (thanks to the boom of scrapbooking, you can find these at most craft stores). I cut out the circles from festive paper, place the circle on top of the jar and screw the rim back on. If you are feeling really crafty, you can use a holiday stamp on the paper. My sister and I made 4 oz jars of apple butter as my wedding favor, and we used a custom stamp to decorate the paper. Let me know if you’d like more info…

  26. 26

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  27. 27
    Henry says:

    Is canning necessary if you plan to eat the jam right away within a week or so?

    • 27.1
      Marisa says:

      Nope! If you don’t want to go through the canning process, you can just make the jam, pour it into jars and then refrigerate once it is cool.

  28. 28
    Brooke says:

    I made this as a chutney last night with finely chopped red onion and a pouch of cinnamon, cloves and all spice. I stirred in rum, then processed for 15 min in 8oz jars. Delicious! Next time I’ll add citrus and less apple. I also found out my guests today don’t like cranberries so I’ll be enjoying this with cheese on bread 🙂

  29. 29
    Houston Ima says:

    We made this last week and I love it!! Can’t get enough of it. This is definitely going into my rotation. This was the 6th jam we made this year!! Thank you!

  30. 30
    Nissa says:

    Just wanted to thank you for this wonderful recipe! I made this for holiday gifts, but we’ll see if any survives that long!

  31. 31
    John Castrovinci says:

    Great recipe! Added a few changes: 1 1/2 tsp apple pie spice, 1/2 tsp Allspice, 1+ cup fruit juice instead of water; used a potato masher instead of a processor this way the mixture doesn’t cool in the processor; used a medium orange rind cut in thin strips and sliced the orange into the puree instead of lemon zest and lemon juice …
    After ladling the mixture in the jar, wipe lid, seal, and invert. The jars will seal without using the 10′ water bath!

  32. 32
    Marisa says:

    John, I’m a little confused here. There is no food processor step in this recipe. Additionally, while the jars will seal when you invert them, you don’t have the additional safety guarantee that the boiling water bath process gives. I don’t actually recommend skipping that step.

  33. 33
    Rachel says:

    Thank you so much for this amazing jam recipe! I found your web site in December and made this jam and can’t wait to try more recipes (just printed out the almond butter recipe!)! I’ll add a picture to your FLICKR group soon. thanks again!

  34. 34
    Meredith says:

    Just finished processing a batch of this recipe! Loved it and will continue to love for a long time,perfect.

  35. 35
    Leah says:

    I love this site but my one complaint is when I got to the recipe index & I try to click on certain recipes like the slow cooker blueberry butter it won’t come up it goes to another recipe. What can I do?

    • 35.1
      Marisa says:

      Leah, do you mean you have this trouble when clicking from the recipe index? I just went through the entire thing and couldn’t see any problems. If you’re having trouble getting to the recipe that way, you can always search for it using the search tool on the front page of the site. I am sorry you’re having issues, though.

  36. 36
    Gretchen says:

    Hey Marisa:) Stumbled across your blog in panic of having too many apples and running out of ideas of what to do with them:) Love your blog! Love the idea for bread to accompany the jam. I have been giving jam for years and always thought it was missing something. thank you! And lastly something of note that was done by accident that I think would make a GREAT gift…I had a bit of reg apple jam left over so I poured it into a jar thinking that the next batch I was making would mix with it…it didn’t giving my jam a cool layered look! So I was thinking layering apple with cranberry for a fun festive and pretty gift:) idk though …it sealed properly but I’ve never seen it before. Anyway thanks again!:)

  37. 37

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  38. 38
    Jennifer says:

    We grow cranberries and so I have tons of them. I happened across your blog this weekend and so I made this jam with our homegrown cranberries and fireside apples. It’s good, but my kids didn’t care for the lemon flavor. I think I’ll make this again omitting the lemon and adding a bit of cinnamon. I’ve been enjoying reading through your archives.

    • 38.1
      marisa says:

      Jennifer, glad to hear that you’re going to customize the jam to your family’s preferences. That’s the beauty of home canning!

  39. 39
    laura says:

    I have loved your posts and recipes since the first time I stumbled onto you while just investigating canning. Just finished making your Apple Cranberry Jam and not only is it beautiful, but delicious too. This one will be perfect for my Christmas baskets. Thanks so much!

  40. 40

    could you sub in pears instead of the apples?

  41. 41

    […] Food In Jars, Combine the berries, apples, sugar and water. Stir until the mixture gets bubbly and the […]

  42. 42
    Tammy White says:

    Looking forward to making this with a group of Boy Scouts next week! Thanks!

  43. 43
    funk_e says:

    I was wondering what your thoughts were on using frozen cranberries instead of fresh? My cousin happened upon a very large amount of cranberries early in the season, and not knowing how to use them all up she froze a bunch. I’d love to try this recipe, but I don’t want to compromise the results by using a sub-par ingredient…. Thanks!

  44. 44
    Samantha says:

    I just finshed making this recipe for part of my Christmas baskets. I added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and it’s turned out fabulous!! Thanks! 🙂

  45. 45
    Lisa says:

    This was my first attempt at making jam and I am so pleased with the results (I doubled the recipe and found out later that is a big no-no-but it set just fine for me). I also added cinnamon and omitted the lemons. Perfect for Christmas gifts!

  46. 46
    Amy says:

    I hauled my jam-making stuff over to my mom’s yesterday to make this (she had 3 bags of cranberries left from last year in the freezer!); we halved it, omitted the lemon rind (did add the juice to be safe with acid!) and added copious amounts of cinnamon (maybe close to a teaspoon? I just did it by taste). We then made cran-orange with an orange she had in the fridge, using similar proportions (and the pithy part of the orange to add more pectin). Both came out beautifully! Thanks so much for all of the inspiration and safety tips I’ve gleaned from your site!

  47. 47
    TZdeb says:

    Made this last christmas to give away, it was a HUGE success. I added cinnamon and ground cloves in one batch, and I have a jar of premixed pumpkin pie spices that I used in another. I forgot to add anything to the last batch but added extra lemon zest (his one was everyone’s favorite). Thanks for a great recipe! And I really like the idea Amy has of cranberry orange…mmmmmm 🙂

  48. 48

    […] used a recipe from Gift in a Jar and added cinnamon and nutmeg.  I picked up the cute little jam jars from Walmart and the fabric […]

  49. 49
    Rachel says:

    Can i substitute lemon juice from a bottle for the juice and zest from the lemons and about how much juice would be required for this recipe for canning? I am thinking of making this for Christmas gifts this year but have relatives that are allergic to citrus peel, but not the juice. Weird, i know.

  50. 50
    krysta says:

    Hi there,
    LOVe that you used cranberry to balance out the apples! I’m going to try this recipe.
    I make an apple jam with peaches. Try it out if you get a chance 🙂


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