Small Batch Apple Cranberry Compote

apple cranberry compote side

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.

apple cranberry compote top

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.

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37 responses to “Small Batch Apple Cranberry Compote”

    • 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.

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

    • It really does not matter. Firmer apples will take a little longer to cook than softer ones, but they all end up tasting good.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!!!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. I just made this using coconut sugar, orange juice and zest and crystalilized ginger. Is coconut sugar much lower acid than regular?

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