Gift in a Jar: Apple-Cranberry Jam

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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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

***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!

https://foodinjars.com/recipe/gift-in-a-jar-apple-cranberry-jam/

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97 responses to “Gift in a Jar: Apple-Cranberry Jam”

  1. 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. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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?

    Thanks!!!!

  6. 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…?

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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).

  10. 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….).

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. 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?

  17. 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…

    • 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.

  18. 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 🙂

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. 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?

    • 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.

  23. 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!:)

  24. 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.

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

  25. 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!

  26. 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!

  27. 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! 🙂

  28. 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!

  29. 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!

  30. 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 🙂

  31. 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.

  32. Saw this jam in a bakery in Wells, Maine and had to try it. Left out the lemon rind. Added 1 teaspoon cinnamon but tasted a little flat. Added 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Nailed it! Enhanced all the flavors. Thanks for the recipe.

  33. If I don’t use the canning process how long will the jam last? Can it be frozen?

    I added 2 cinnamon sticks, half a teaspoon of nutmeg & half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Yum! 🙂

  34. Hi, thanks so much for sharing the recipe! Tried it and it turned out soooo yummy, everyone had great comments on the jam. I cut the sugar almost by half though and it was slightly too chunky, less spreadable but sweet enough. Thank you!!

  35. Made this today. I decided I wanted a smooth jam and ran mine through the food mill. I’m planning on taking a jar to my sil as a thank you for hosting Thanksgiving. I can’t wait to have this on turkey!! I’ll be saving the rest for my Christmas gifts.

  36. Hello! I just made this with 5 cups of sugar and .5 cup of pure maple syrup at the very end. Set up really beautifully and had a great flavor! Thanks again for all the great recipes, love your book!

  37. Made this today to send out as gifts for Christmas. It tastes fantastic. I will definitely be making more. I stock up on cranberries this time of year!

  38. is it necessary to use quite that much sugar? i’m moving towards lower sugar recipes these days, and wonder if the amount could be cut back at all without affecting the canning safety. thanks!

  39. Made this yesterday, it is fantastic. It was my first time canning and I made this recipe and followed your awesome instructions for water bath canning. Super awesome instructions. Thanks for all the great info and recipes.

  40. My daughter and I made juice with the cranberries and then used them to make jam along with apples that we had froze in the fall (heated up in the microwave) Just had to watch when filtering the juice that we didn’t throw away the “silt” or pectin. instead of water we used a cup of our home made juice. turned out great!

  41. […] better then store bought. You can find me jamming out lots in the Fall. The recipe can be found here. The last photo is a very delicious alternative to an apple pie for the holidays. It is an […]

  42. Delicious! I have made several of your jams and this is my husband’s favorite so far! I divided it into 2 batches because I don’t have a large enough pot. I followed the recipe exactly for the first batch and for the 2nd batch I replaced the spices with fresh some grated ginger. They are both yummy, but our favorite is the first batch. I just found cranberries on sale at Costco, so I plan to make more asap. Perfect for holiday gift giving.

  43. I purposely use firm apples so they hold some of their bite when cooked, and I add lots of diced fresh ginger and cook it closer to a soft set. I label it as Apple cranberry chutney and suggest it over Brie or Camembert. This is always a huge hit.

  44. This is an awesome jam! I love it. Just canned it today and had some extra. Super delicious! We had this with cheese and crackers. Yum!

  45. I would like to say thank you for this also recipe. I just love apple butter. It’s a nice gift to give as a gift. For like Christmas, birthday’s for any extc.

  46. This recipe sounds wonderful. My only concern is that, I’ve made cranberry jam before and the skins can be a bit too much texture-wise. Does the addition of the apple chunks balance out the cranberry skins?

  47. Wow this is the quickest, easiest and most foolproof jam I think I’ve ever made! I make Christmas hampers for my family every year and this is perfect as a foil for all the uber sweet chocolate and cookies because it has a bit of bite. I used one lemon and half an orange to make it extra christmassy.

  48. Hi Marisa,

    I just made this recipe last night! I got 4 beautiful pints and had a little leftover in the pot to spoon warm jam into bowls of yogurt before bed. What a nice recipe, only the second jam I’ve ever canned. I had 6 good sized Macintosh apples but was a little short handed once they were peeled and diced, so I supplemented with some smaller chopped honeycrisp apple. Worked like a charm. Thanks! I just ordered your Food in Jars cook book last week and it should arrive soon 🙂

  49. Just made this jam with this year’s haul of heirloom cidering apples – incredibly flavorful. I ended up using my stick blender at the end to break up the apple chunks. This one is a keeper.

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