Preserves in Action: Pickled Cranberries

November 23, 2011(updated on October 18, 2023)
arugula salad with pickled cranberry vinaigrette

Over the weekend, I made a batch of pickled cranberries for my Serious Eats In a Pickle column. I figured it was a fun, seasonal pickle and a good one to feature in the days before Thanksgiving. What I didn’t anticipate was that it would rocket so quickly to the top of my favorite preserve list.

pickled cranberries

I made these on Sunday night and I’ve eaten them in one way or another everyday since. On Sunday, I realized that they were nothing so much as a chunky shrub (or drinking vinegar) and stirred them into a bit of sparkling water for a fancy “cocktail” to go with dinner (though I love a good, boozy drink, I have a teeny, tiny tolerance and so often skip the intoxicants).

On Monday, I whisked some of the cranberries into some olive oil and drizzled it over a mess of arugula and goat cheese and topped the whole thing with a big of not-very-sweet granola for some crunch. That’s the salad you see above. It was refreshing, filling and perfectly seasoned. I think it’s my new house vinaigrette.

pickled cranberries

Yesterday, I made little stacks of baguette, clothbound cheddar and pickled cranberries, for a sweet, savory, astringent snack. I’ve not eaten them yet today, but we have so many hours to go before bed. I’m sure I’ll work them in somehow. Tomorrow, they’re going on turkey.

If you still have time before Thanksgiving and want to sneak more more condiment on to the to-do list, I do recommend this one. However, even if you can’t imagine the idea of cramming even another thing into your pre-holiday plans, I still think you should make these pickled cranberries once turkey day has passed. They are my new favorite thing and I think they just might become yours as well.

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21 thoughts on "Preserves in Action: Pickled Cranberries"

  • I made just one jar last night as I only had about 3/4 of a bag of cranberries in my fridge, can’t wait to try them out!

  • Nice blag, etc.

    So I noticed that you lifted a jar out of the canner and tilted it. I was told that tilting is a no-no because getting food up there by the seal may be detrimental. What do you say to that?

  • I have yet to try pickling fruit and I still have some cranberries left. It will be after thanksgiving, but I think they will make a great condiment for winter meals. Can’t wait to try them!

    1. Made this this am, and am drinking the leftover “shrub” this pm…..fantastic! I do have a question for you however – now that I am addicted to these shrubs! Is it possible to add a little vinegar to the bottom of a jar of jam to make an impromptu shrub/drink? It seems it would already have the sugar fruit thing happening.

  • Hi Marisa, First of all, I love your blog and am taking some of your recipes for holiday gift baskets this year! I had a question about the pickled cranberry recipe. Where do you get juniper berries? I know we live in different parts of the country so where you get them may not work for me, but are they hard to find? There’s a couple of spice shops/specialty food markets in town-would places like that have them or have you seen them in grocery stores?

    Thanks for all your hard work!

  • these were an enormous hit at my Thanksgiving dinner. I’m going to pick up some more cranberries just to pickle them, so I can eat them all winter long. Thanks!

  • These are now an obsession of mine as well! I was looking for one more gift for the boyfriend’s parents, and this looked like it might work, so I decided to give them a dry run at a Christmas party this weekend first. Oh man! The BF doesn’t really like sweet pickles, but he likes gin well enough, and he is convinced the shrub is now a great idea stirred into a gin and tonic. Thanks for opening my eyes to this great possibility–I love vinegary things, and this is SO easy.

  • Marisa, do most of your cranberries actually stay intact? Mine turned themselves into a sort of jam in just a couple of minutes, but I wonder if the berries may have been slightly overripe.

    1. Mine are soft but intact. But they were fairly hard when I started cooking them. If they’re quite ripe, they will break down much more quickly.

  • Oh Marisa – this recipe is genius! I have a serious weakness for cranberries – after Thanksgiving I stock my freezer full of them so I always have a pack on hand to make chutney, roasted cran compote or some tart crumble bars. The pickled berries are simply delicious on their own, and are going to be very fine alongside some turkey or roast pork…but the leftover spiced brine might be my favorite part! I adore shrubs with soda water, and this one might be my favorite between the hint of tart cranberry and the spices – it tastes like the holidays!

  • My very first shrub experience was using the ” juice” of your pickled cranberry recipe added to sparkling water. I still think it’s one of the best flavor combos. I love shrubs, and I’m looking forward to trying the blueberry ginger one!