Sunday, September 23, 2012

High-bush cranberry jelly

One of my to-do's this year was to make high-bush cranberry jelly. We went out Saturday down in the valley and picked a pail of these lovely berries.

Jess had quite a good time with chickadees landing on her hand to check out the berries that she offered them.

We also ran into a beaver swimming in the river just below where we were picking. I've run into these fellows on land but I've never seen one just hanging out in the current. We were far enough above to get a nice look-down shot.

Once home, we then boiled and crushed the berries and drained them to get some juice. Three litres of berries yielded about 1.5 litres of juice. This, in turn, yielded 1 litre of jelly. I don't usually put recipes up (as there are many better places online) but I had a hard time finding a high-bush cranberry jelly recipe that did not require pectin (I don't really care for the taste myself) so here it is.

Stem and wash berries. Simmer in pot (2 parts berries to 1 part water). Crush berries with potato masher as they simmer. A bit of citrus rind helps cut down the bad smell. Strain berries to extract juice.

Combine juice and sugar (2 parts berries to 1 part sugar). Cook over medium heat about 60 minutes until gel tests indicate it is ready. Jar it hot and hot-water bath for 10 minutes. I wonder if a tablespoon of lemon juice would have helped with the smell and accelerated the gelling?

The result was a brilliant red jelly that seemed to set up quite well. I included a fair number of immature berries in our pick (orange-coloured instead of deep red) to increase the pectin levels. It tastes and smells like cranberry jelly although the cooking process was a bit stinky. All told, this is something I would do again. Now back to putting the garden to bed for the winter.


  1. That is odd to have stinky cooking! And yes, acid is a requirement for jelling. But if the fruit has enough acid then no added would be required. Obviously you had enough because yours jelled nicely. You are so lucky to find them in the wild.

    1. Thanks Sarah. The Edmonton river valley is actually filled with high bush cranberries (in fact they are the defining smell of autumn for me in Edmonton, a vaguely acidic stink as I cycle along the river). They jelly seems to have set nicely and delicious. I wondered, though, whether lemon juice in the jelly might reduce the smell of the jelly while cooking as the orange rind did while simmering the berries to get the juice. I will try this next time.