This apple cranberry compote is highly flexible. As written, it makes between 3 and 4 cups, but the batch can easily be doubled. You can also enhance it with fresh ginger, cardamom, or a splash of liqueur.
On Monday night, I did a canning event at the Mullica Hill Library in Gloucester County, NJ. When I was planning out the event with the librarian many months back, I suggested I demonstrate a recipe for apple cranberry compote. It seemed like just the thing for mid-October, what with Thanksgiving and the gifting season rapidly approaching.
The only trouble was at the time, I didn’t actually have an apple cranberry compote recipe in my personal preserve arsenal. I had jams, sauces, and chutneys, but no compotes.
So, with the demo rapidly approaching, I spend a little time over the weekend working one up. It starts with 4 large apples (peeled, cored, and diced), 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries (rinsed and picked over), and 1/2 cup water. You combine those three things in a saucepan, set them over medium-high heat, and simmer them until the cranberries pop and the apple chunks soften.
Once the fruit is tender and most the water has evaporated, you add 1 cup of granulated sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and the zest and juice of a lemon. You cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the compote looses its watery look and the apples can be easily crushed with the back of your spoon.
When you like the consistency, you funnel it into jars, wipe off the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process the closed jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. When the time is up, pull the pot off the heat, remove the lid, and let the jars cool gradually for a bit. Depending on how much sugar you use, the yield will be between 3-4 half pints.
This is a highly flexible preserve. You could sweet it with honey instead of sugar (use 2/3 cup). To add a bit more flavor from the start, cook the fruit down in apple juice or cider instead of water. Add some freshly grated ginger, or a bit of cloves for an even more autumnal flavor. As long as you don’t add any low acid ingredients like onions or garlic, you can tweak the spices and liquids as much as you like.
However, even the most simple version is quite delicious.
Small Batch Apple Cranberry Compote
- 4 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 4 half pint jars. Wash new lids and rings in warm, soapy water and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the apples, cranberries, and water. Set it over medium-high heat and simmer until the apples soften and the cranberries pop.
- Once the fruit is tender, add the sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice and zest.
- Continue to simmer until you are pleased with the consistency. Know that it will thicken as it cools, keep that in mind.
- Remove the compote 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 compote. Process the sauce for 15 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.