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A fresh cranberry jam with pomegranate juice is the perfect blend of sweet and tart. It’s easy to make with only 4 simple ingredients, and can be water bath canned for shelf stable storage. Enjoy seasonal cranberry and pomegranate flavors beyond thanksgiving with this easy cranberry jam recipe!
Before I began working with fresh cranberries the jellied goop that came from a can was all I knew about them. Fresh cranberry changed the game! For years my family and I have been cooking whole cranberries into a luscious sauce for Thanksgiving dinner, but this year my mom and I decided to combine them with pomegranate, another fall flavor favorite, to make something a little different, an ooey, gooey cranberry jam.
It came out perfectly! Sweet and tart, just lick the spoon clean good! With just a few extra steps to water bath can it, we not only had a lovely holiday jam made for our gift baskets, plus some extras to pull out of the cupboard in a few months when the craving strikes. We may even skip cranberry sauce this year and serve it with the turkey!
What is a Cranberry?
The cranberry is a berry that grows on a low lying, creeping vine. It flowers in May or June, and will eventually produce red ripe berries we all know and love sometime around September.
It’s a traditional holiday flavor here in the U.S. and in Canada, especially around Thanksgiving! Most of the cranberries we consume are grown in bogs (wet marshy places) on both the West and East coast of the Northern United States. They’re packed with antioxidants, are very acidic, and have a very low sugar content, making them tart and sometimes bitter when eaten alone.
What About Pomegranates?
Pomegranates are a unique, and ancient fruit that grow on a shrubby tree. They’re leathery, and range from pale to deep red on the outside depending on their sun exposure. They contain juicy, crunchy arils (jewels or seeds) on the inside. Typically, in the Northern hemisphere, pomegranates are harvested sometime between September and February. When in season, they provide a lovely sweet, tart juice that’s great to drink and to flavor recipes with.
Plus it’s particularly nice paired with berries!
Cranberry Jam Recipe Ingredients
With two powerhouse fruit flavors like cranberry and pomegranate, it was essential to provide enough sugar to balance them, without overwhelming the beautiful tartness we love about these fruits.
- Whole Cranberries – You can use either frozen or fresh, but they do need to be whole cranberries. Using just juice will not work – juice contains no pectin, and the jam will be more like an unset jelly.
- Pomegranate Juice – I’m all for fresh juice, and with a tree in my mom’s backyard it’s easy to get (free!), buuuut I know it’s pricey and time consuming to buy whole pomegranates to juice. Just make sure you’re buying 100% pure pomegranate juice.
- Sugar – Nothing fancy, just granulated sugar.
- Pectin – Cranberries are naturally high in pectin, but pomegranate juice is basically void of it. To quicken the process, reduce the sugar it takes to gel, and ensure we get a good set, we use pectin.
- Butter (Optional) – My mom ALWAYS adds a tablespoon of butter to jams and jellies to reduce the foaming that can occur when cooking. You don’t have to do this, you can simply skim any foam you see instead!
For more info on pectin, and what makes this a Jam instead of a jelly or a compote, please check out my complete Guide to Jams, Jellies, and other Preserves.
Making Pomegranate Cranberry Jam
The process is a simple two part boiling method, with a few extra steps if you’d like to water bath can for shelf storage. It can also be frozen! All in all, it took about an hour start to finish (canning included!).
For Water Bath Canning
- Get your mason jars, lids, and new seals ready. Four 16 ounce jars, or any other jars that add up to 64 ounces will work. Jars and seals do not need to be sterilized before canning, make sure they’re simply clean and warm before adding jam to them.
- Bring your canning pot full of water to a boil.
- Assemble your funnel, some dish towels, jar clamp, and ladle.
- Blend your whole cranberries until they’re broken down into smallish chunks. Do not puree, you want texture.
- Add cranberries, pomegranate juice, and pectin to a large pot and bring to a boil (Add butter now if using!).
- When the mixture has reached a rapid boil that doesn’t recede when you stir it gently, add your sugar, continuing to stir as you do.
- When all is combined, continue stirring, slowly and gently until the mixture returns to a rapid boil. You must continue to stir!
- Once it has returned to the boil, begin your timer. 7 minutes exactly, no more, no less, and keep stirring!
- When the time is up, remove from the heat. If there is any foam, simply skim off with a spoon (watch those fingers, hot jam will burn) and discard.
- For canning, ladle into warm jars, leaving 1/4″ of headspace at the top. Wipe the rim of any drips, and make sure the rim is dry. Then seal and tighten the bands (Carefully! Use some hand protection). Lower into your jars carefully into your canning pot so they’re submerged by an inch. Let process for 10 minutes.
- Remove and set on a heat safe surface until the lids pop. You will likely hear this, but if you don’t give a gently push on the center of a lid. A properly sealed jar will have no clicking or give in the center. Don’t stress if this doesn’t happen right away, it can take several hours.
If you’d rather freeze your jam, ladle your hot jam into freezer safe containers and allow to cool. Then close and place in the freezer.
Either way, frozen or canned, your jam should be good for at least 1 year. Once opened you have a month in the fridge! If you choose not to freeze or water bath can, store in the fridge for 1 month.
That’s a tricky question. I use regular ole’ sure jell pectin. It’s cheap, widely available, and jam isn’t a health food so I don’t worry about a tablespoon or two here and there. However, there are low sugar pectin options available as well.
If you opt to use a low sugar pectin please refer to the booklet that comes in the pectin boxes. This should give you examples on how much sugar it requires to set jams with similar ingredients and quantities. I cannot guarantee it will work however.
Most pectin boxes will advise against doubling or tripling jam recipes because it can mess with how it sets up. However we have successfully doubled this recipe with a few stipulations.
1. Use a large, wide pot to give the jam enough cooking surface.
2. Double ALL the ingredients, including the pectin.
3. Double the cooking time after you’ve added the sugar, 14 minutes instead of 7.
Get your Jam on!
There you have it, a delicious cranberry jam recipe that’s perfect for fall, especially around the holidays. It’s delicious, tart but sweet, and sooooo good on creamy cheese! It also makes an excellent homemade gift!
Other Homemade Gifts
- Pomegranate Jelly
- Strawberry Jam
- Loquat Jam
- Homemade Vanilla Extract
- Hot cocoa mix recipe
- Quick and Easy Blueberry Compote
- 2.5 cups whole cranberries fresh or frozen
- 2.5 cups pomegranate juice
- 7 cups granulated sugar
- 1 box pectin a shallow 1/2 cup
Pulse cranberries in a blender or food processor until chunky. Do not puree.
Combine cranberries, pomegranate juice, and pectin in a large pot and bring to a boil.
When at a rapid boil that doesn't recede with slow stirring, begin adding your sugar, continuing to stir.
When sugar is all incorporated, return to a boil, continuing to stir slowly and gently.
Once the jam is at a very rapid boil again, begin timing and cook for exactly 7 minutes, continue to stir the whole time.
After 7 minutes remove from heat and ladle into storage jars of choice.
Water Bath Canning
Before you begin to cook your jam assemble 4 16 ounce jars, lids, and new seals. They need to be clean, and the jars should be warm when the jam is ladled into it.
Bring a large pot with a canning rack full of water to a boil. You need enough water to cover the jars by 1 inch.
Once jam is cooked, ladle into jars and leave 1/4" of head space. Make sure rims are clean of jelly and seal the jars (use hand protection with the hot jars).
Submerge jars in boiling water and let process for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let seal (you'll hear a pop), this can take several hours. Then store for up to a year in your cupboard, or in the fridge for 1 month once opened.
Ladle cooked jam into freezer safe containers and leave 1 inch of head space for expansion. Let it cool and close containers, then store in freezer up to a year.