After the holidays I snatch up all the cranberries I can find on sale and stick them in my deep freeze. No we aren’t fans of homemade cranberry sauce or cranberry bread or muffins or whatever. We are fans of cranberry juice and with 5 people in the house who don’t believe in juice glasses and several members who can’t have preservatives, corn syrup, or dyes–well the preservative free plain old cranberry juice with no extra sweeteners is EXPENSIVE, plus you still have to sweeten it with stuff they can use (usually honey).
So, instead of spending $5 for a bottle of unsweetened cranberry juice I buy up cranberries and make my own.
Before you panic and run the other direction–it is easy. Really.
First, fill a large soup pot up about 3/4 of the way with water. Set it to boil.
Next, rinse two bags of cranberries then pour them in (you don’t want to use a small pot because it will overflow and that is messy.)
Cover and once it is boiling, turn down the heat and let simmer until all the cranberries pop open. (kind of like popcorn only less dramatic).
Add whatever sweetener you like (my pot holds about 2 gallons and I add about a cup of honey or maple syrup at this point–we have also used Splenda in the past, this works pretty well too.) You can add more sweetener later to taste.
Once all the berries have popped and the sweetener is combined with the liquid, grab a pitcher, a sieve, and a ladle. Put the sieve in the pitcher and ladle the cranberries plus juice into the sieve, using the ladle to squish the berries into the sieve. (If you don’t like seeds you will want to use some cheese cloth in the sieve as well.)
I then pour the contents of the pitcher into glass jars (jelly jars, honey jars, you name it–the kids LOVE to drink the juice right out of these and they work as well as bottled juices when you are on the go.) These get stored in the back of the fridge until they are gone (it only takes a few days around here.) They aren’t officially canned but I have found that usually they seal quite tight due to the heat of the juice.
When I can’t get cranberries I buy concentrated grape juice at the health food store (it comes in glass bottles with plastic lids. ) I make it up similarly, without the cooking, and store it the same way. The bottles make several gallons and the juice is much better than the frozen concentrate from the grocery store, plus I can adapt the sweetener to suit and often add a bit of magnesium powder (from the health food store) to give it a bit of a fizz.