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.
If you’re looking for a more interesting cranberry condiment, consider this Cranberry Marmalade or my beloved Pickled Cranberries.
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.
Does the size of the jar affect the processing time?
Only if you can it in a jar larger than a pint. The processing time is the same for any jar pint or smaller. If you move up to a 24 or 32 ounce jar, you need to add 5 minutes to the processing time.
Perfect timing, I have a half bushel of apples just waiting for something exciting to hit! Cooking this up pronto!
Diced peel of organic citrus would be an excellent addition……
Try with diced red pear, and grated orange rind and chopped orange pulp…a must-have on Turkey day!
Sounds yummy. I’m thinking of using orange zest instead of lemon and using it for thanksgiving
If I use frozen cranberries, would I omit the water??
No, the apples still need it.
Can you safely reduce the sugar?
This sounds delicious! I am working my way through canning a half bushel of apples too. This sounds perfect for the last of them! How much does the recipe make?
Yummy! I love apple and cranberry season. Thanks for another great recipe.
I looked up the definition, but I still can’t figure out the difference between jam and a compote. Help?
Several years ago I had a cranberry relish that had serrano peppers in it. It was called Christmas Cranberry. Do you have a recipe for something similar to that or could I just add the pepper to my regular relish? I would really like to can something like that.
Just made this, adding a 1/4 teaspoon of cloves. I tasted what was left in the pot after filling my jam jars — delicious! Looking forward to having this with ice cream, over pound cake, with pancakes, etc come winter. Thank you!
What size and how many jars does this recipe make?
Oops, sorry about that omission. It makes 4 half pints or 2 pints.
Can I use 2/3 cups maple syrup instead of honey?
My coworker has a sugarbush on her farm and I helped her out in the spring and came home with so much maple syrup. I’m in a weird position of having over 2L of maple syrup that I need to use by next season!!
Sure. Maple syrup is a lower acid sweetener, but the acid of the apples and cranberries should keep this preserve safe for canning.
Marisa this sounds wonderful and I like that its a smaller yield then your apple-cranberry jam (which my family loves!) How long does the compote keep once processed?
A year or more.
Marisa, about how many pints does this recipe make as described?
It makes four half pints, or two pints.
When you say “4 large apples,” about how many cups of diced fruit does that translate to? My guess would be 4 cups, at one cup per apple, but I’m novice enough that I’m not really comfortable guessing when it comes to canning. Could you please clarify this? Thanks so much!
I didn’t measure the apples, but about four cups should do it. Precision isn’t critical here, because both fruits are high in acid.
So the type of apple doesn’t matter?
It really does not matter. Firmer apples will take a little longer to cook than softer ones, but they all end up tasting good.
I’ve made this several times now with some of the suggested variations and the results have been wonderful. I made some today that I’m a tiny bit concerned about. A couple of the jars have sweated on the inside between the top of the fruit and the lid. Wondering if I did something wrong and if these will be ok — or if I should dump them out.
Thank you. I love your site!
Never mind. Found the answer to my question by doing a search of the site itself. Thanks again !
This can go on the shelves in my basement, correct? No need to keep refrigerated until we open it? I’ve made 6 pints so I won’t need it at once. Thanks and it’s amazing and not quite done yet!
As long as you’ve processed the finished jars in a water bath canner, the jars can go straight to the shelves in the basement.
Wow..so simple, yet, the taste is awesome!!! I used Turbinado sugar instead of white sugar and it makes a difference in the taste! soooo good!!!
I want to thank you for this recipe! I need just a few more jarred gifts for Christmas. I came online to figure out what I could do with the 4 granny smith apples and small bag of cranberries I have on hand, hoping to find a small batch recipe that uses them (and where I didn’t have to go to the store). This recipe is perfect!
Rise again Compotes. My new ball canning book had NONE. My Aunty made so many little jam jars, one new jar opened every dinner as a side treat. My dad would spoon in jar finish it with milk laughing at Johnny Carson, those special visits nights. Did not recall the name til I found an old canning book. Need these to fill the void in canning. Can not see finishing off a small jam or jelly. But a nutty not so sweet yet sour fruit seems healthy in tiny jars of course.
I just made this using coconut sugar, orange juice and zest and crystalilized ginger. Is coconut sugar much lower acid than regular?
marisa, this is so unbelievably good. thank you.
I am so happy that you like it!
Marisa, you mentioned 2/3 cup honey in place of sugar. Would that be the same increment for maple syrup as well. I thinking of making this recipe with pears as well.( My grandson enjoys pears ).
Thank you for your help with this recipe.!
Maple syrup isn’t interchangeable with sugar in the same way that honey it.
Is peeling the apple integral to the safety of the finished compote? Could I leave them unpeeled for the extra fiber and nutrients? I have so many apples and have already made so much apple butter that I’m hoping to try this.
For a preserve like this one, it is best to peel because the skins give a really unpleasant texture to the finished product. However, there is no safety implication if you leave the peels on.