Cran-Apple Conserve

Holiday meals of any sort are never complete with out a little cranberry something special on the table. I grew up with the standard ocean spray canned sauce. Its great, love it on crackers now and again but for holidays something homemade is a necessity. I always say a happy meal is a homemade one, every year I have at least one homemade cranberry something next to the tinned sauce. Its the back up, because inevitably someone will not want mine. I have accepted this and I do not fight it. Yesterday we celebrated our Pre-Thanksgiving. (Definition- the Thanksgiving you have before the travelling circus known as the “get together.”) Growing up in a broken double home, (part military at that) often the holidays were here or there, sometimes it felt like I was everywhere and anywhere in between. Years that we will be anywhere but home I make a special meal so that there is a sense of continuity for the weebles. 

Cranberry Frozen Yogurt, made with Homemade Raw Cream Yogurt
I admit I’ve been spoiled over the past few years and we’ve held almost all of the holidays here. I really got used to the comfort of it, and I realize that holiday travel is a very touchy subject for me. Travelling and double holidays make me feel a little lost again. My kids don’t give a damn if they have to have a supper somewhere else, and frankly they don’t care if they have “holiday supper” at all. For me however its a bit different. I’ve obviously got attachment and control issues. My kids (and man meat)  HAVE to have something I’ve made them. Its an expression of love, and its a way to make sure they know how much they mean to me. 

As predicted my raw cranberry & yogurt compote did not go over well with the boys. Stephen hates cranberries all together, Connor got mad I dare steal his cranberries, Riley… well he’s a lost cause on some things. It takes work to convert the crew to new things, and I was happy enough to use the compote to make frozen yogurt and other treats. The other bag of cranberries was destined to become this delicious Cran-Apple Conserve. I used some fresh apple cider, a few apples and some other tidbits. Simply put this was just an awesome win for me. I felt like I should take a bow and get a crown. I nailed it! This is by far the closest I’ve gotten to the canned cranberry sauce without compromising. I could have just used cranberry juice and pectin/gelatin but at that point why not just give them the one that’s already made? I wanted something truly, naturally homemade. This did it, I did not have my can of sauce as back up and I did not need it. As I cleared the table I realized…. we ate 2 jars of it! 

Cran-Apple Conserve
For a richer cranberry flavor use only 1 apple, and use only dried cranberries. I used a mixture of cranberries and raisins so that the raisins could add some natural sweetness without the use of excessive sugar. Using apple cider is also another trick when you want to add sweetness without sugar. (I use cider or apple juice instead of sugar when making apple sauce.) You could just use cranberry juice instead of apple cider… Cranberry conserves sound good but I used apples to mellow the sell to my picky palates. 

1 standard 12 ounce bag, fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries 
2 medium apples, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh apple cider 
3/4 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
2-3 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins
*Pinch of Sea Salt 

In the bowl of a food processor coarsely chop cranberries. If you do not have a food processor you can try to use a blender. (add the cider to the blender) I chopped the cranberries first to insure shorter cooking time and a smoother more “cranberry sauce” like texture. To a medium-large soup pot combine cranberries, cider, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Simmer until the apples have softened entirely, about 8-10 minutes. Remove and add mixture back to the food processor, once  its cooled enough not to make a hot mess pulse until smooth. Add raisins and cranberries, pulse multiple times. I left some whole and chunky. 
For a chunky conserve simply skip all the food processor-ing.

Place into hot sterile jars and process according to your altitude/jar size. (8-10 minutes)
If you like this post you will ABSOLUTELY love these Homemade Cranberry Preserves , recently syndicated for Holiday Food DIY on BlogHer