This apple cranberry jam is an ideal preserve for holiday giving. It goes perfectly with traditional holiday food (try it on a turkey sandwich!), can easily be customized, and yields satisfyingly large batch.
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.
- 8 cups of peeled and diced apples, 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 fresh cranberries
- 6 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 lemons zested and juiced
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 10 half pint jars. Wash new lids and rings in warm, soapy water and set aside.
- Combine the apples, cranberries, sugar, water, and lemon juice and zest in a 8 quart (or larger) nonreactive pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the cranberries pop and the apples soften.
- At this point, start watching closely for signs that the jam is beginning 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 begins to cling to the walls of the pot. Keep in mind that it will thicken as it cools.
- Remove the jam from the stove. Use canning tongs to remove a hot jar from your prepared canner. Funnel the hot compote into the jar, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove the air bubbles.
- Wipe the rim, apply a clean, new lid and a ring and return the jar to the canner. Repeat this process with the remaining jars and jam. Process the sauce for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude if you live above 1,000 feet in elevation.
- When the processing time is up, turn off the heat, remove the lid from the pot and let the jars stand in the pot for an additional five minutes (this allows them to cool more gradually, which helps prevent siphoning and should also help develop a more robust seal).
- Remove the jars from the canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel. Let them sit undisturbed for 12-24 hours so they can fully cool and seal. Before storing, make sure to check that the seals are firm and unbending. Sealed jars are shelf stable up to 18 months, any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.