Cranberry Butter & Cranberry Fruit Leathers

Continuing on with the no-waste methods like we did in Blueberry Butter and Blueberry Syrup, we wanted to produce no-waste foods using cranberries.  (Side note – No, cranberries aren’t exactly in season but my freezer is overflowing and the 6 bags had to go!) Even better – these recipes are fairly hands off meaning that it either sits in a crock pot most of the day until its ready to be processed or its dehydrating away in a dehydrator. Due to this – you’re getting a 2-for-1 (recipe) special today. Enjoy 🙂

Cranberry Butter [yield: (9) Half-pints]

Quick reference – Once again, this recipe can be scaled due to the lack of pectin. Since I used 6 bags of cranberries, that is what I will include in the recipe below but feel free to scale down (or up) as you desire.

Materials: (all materials can be found on The Necessities for reference)

  • 3 half-pints jars (plus flat lids and bands/rings)
  • 1 water bath
  • 1 funnel
  • 1 jar lifter
  • 1 stainless steel ladle
  • 1 strainer
  • 1 large crockpot (mine was ready to overflow at 6 bags)
  • 1 food processor
  • 1 dish towel (large enough for the jars to cool on)

Ingredients:

  • (6) 12-oz bags of cranberries, washed
  • 3 cups Brown sugar, packed (may reserve more for taste)
  • 3 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cups Apple Cider (Prefer fresh apple cider)

Process:

  1. Stir all ingredients together into a crock pot and set on high for 2 hours.
  2. After 2 hours, check that cranberries are soft to the touch. If not, return to the crock pot.
  3. Once cranberries are soft, remove cinnamon sticks.
  4. Puree remaining cranberries & juice.
  5. Push puree through a strainer to remove excess pulp and seeds. Set aside for later.
  6. Return strained puree to crockpot for an additional 2 hours until thick, stirring occasionally.
    Note: At this time, I also taste tested mine and added an additional 1/2 cup of brown sugar to remove some of the tartness of the cranberries. Modify as you see fit.
  7. Near the last 30 minutes of the cooking process, inspect each of your jars for cracks, chips, and/or any other questionable markings before use.
  8. Place wire rack into bottom of water bath with ‘arms’ up to allow jars to be placed.
  9. Fill you water bath with enough water to cover each of the jars with 2-3″ of liquid and place on burner to warm jars (simmer but do not boil).
  10. At the end of the 2 hour cooking process, remove empty jars from water bath by lifting the wire rack and setting the arms on the rim of the water bath. Then, using jar lifter empty and remove the jar from the water.
  11. Carefully pour cranberry butter each jar keeping a 1/4in head space. [Head space is the distance from the top of the jar to the food filling the jar.]
  12. Wipe the rim of each jar with a damp cloth ensuring that the rims are clean.
  13. Place flat lid and screw band on jar and finger tighten. [Hint: Place the jar on a towel and using only your fingers, tighten the band until your jar spins on the towel.]
  14. Once finger tightened, return to warm water bath to avoid thermal shock. [Thermal shock is the cracking of jars from an extreme temperature swing such as putting hot food into a cold jar.] Lower wire rack once full.
  15. Place lid on canner, return to high heat and bring water to a full rolling boil.
  16. Once boiling, set timer for 10 minutes [refer to your elevations processing time for correct info].
  17. After 10 minutes, turn off heat and remove the lid. Wait an additional 5 minutes.
  18. Once again, lifting wire rack and placing arms on canner rim, use the jar lifter to remove your filled jars and place on a towel in a cool & draft-free location.
  19. Wait 24 hours before touching the jars. After 24 hours, remove the bands and pick up each jar from the flat lid (this will help ensure that each jar is truly sealed). Once the seal is verified, you may wash the exterior of the jars, dry, label, and store for future use.

Cranberry Fruit Leather

Yield is based on how large your batch of butter is, how fine of a puree you made, as well as how well the puree was strained back into the crock pot.

Materials: 

  • 1 food dehydrator or oven
  • Cookie sheet(s)
  • Parchment paper

Ingredients:

  • Cranberry pulp from cranberry butter

Process:

The process of making fruit leathers is a bit more unconventional – there are a number of ways to tackle this. I personally used option 2 since I was unable to find my fruit leather tray.

Option 1: Food dehydrator with fruit leather tray

  1. Warm puree until it can easily be poured in the fruit leather tray.
  2. Put dehydrator on 135° for 10 hours.
  3. After 10 hours, check that the leathers are pliable but not wet. If wet, return to heat for 1 hour increments.
  4. Store in an airtight container.

Option 2: Food dehydrator without fruit leather tray

  1. Warm puree until it can easily be poured into parchment lined cookie sheet(s).
  2. Place in oven at lowest setting for 1-2 hours until it is dry enough to be cut into strips.
  3. Relocate fruit leather strips to 135° dehydrator.
  4. After 8 hours, check that the leathers are pliable but not wet. If wet, return to heat for 1 hour increments.
  5. Store in an airtight container.

Option 3: Oven

  1. Warm puree until it can easily be poured into parchment lined cookie sheet(s).
  2. Place in oven at lowest setting for 12 hours.
  3. After 12 hours, check that the leathers are pliable but not wet. If wet, return to heat for 1 hour increments.
  4. Store in an airtight container.

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