A Spiced Winter Cranberry Conserve Recipe with warming Brandy, Cinnamon, Ginger and Cardamom.
I just can't help it.
When the days start becoming shorter and a wee bit cooler, I want to embrace all things fall and winter. I spend much more time in my kitchen ‘nesting' for the months and holidays ahead. This month I have canned many quarts of chicken stock and bone broth and have plans to use them in some soups that I'll be canning as well.
I've also started putting up some sweeter preserves for our own use and to give as gifts.
Since last Christmas I have been mulling (see what I did there? I used ‘Christmas' and ‘mulling' in the same sentence…in October!) an idea for a Conserve that would ‘taste like the holidays' redolent with warming spices like crushed cardamom, ginger and cinnamon and a splash of brandy. This delicious Spiced Winter Cranberry Conserve Recipe is the result of that mulling.
Before we get too far down the track, let's just back up and spend a quick minute discussing some the varieties of sweet preserves out there:
Of course you have your Jams and Jellies…these two start out very similarly but jellies are made by straining the liquid thereby removing any fruit bits while jams embrace the fruit bits. Jellies are typically clear and firmer in texture than jams
Preserves are like jams, but even chunkier. Where you might crush your fruit in a jam, you would have larger pieces in a preserve and it might be even looser than a jam.
Marmalades are typically jams made with the rinds of citrus fruit
Conserves are basically jams with additional dried fruits and nuts tossed in.
So back to my splendid Spiced Cranberry Conserve…it's everything I had hoped it would be and then some. It took me a couple of attempts to get the texture I wanted; I was looking for something a little loose that would drip over the side of a wedge of Brie or a round of Camembert (are you drooling yet?) If you are familiar with cranberry relish, this conserve is along the same lines…but maybe a bit softer.
Tangy dried apricots and walnuts also add to the texture and flavor of this Spiced Cranberry Conserve as well.
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If you are new to canning, I highly recommend The Ball Book of Canning and Preserving. I’ve been canning for years and I still refer to it regularly to make sure I am canning safely. A basic canning kit is also very handy. I am not a collector of unnecessary tools and the tools in these kits are really very necessary for canning. You’d have a hard time pouring the jam neatly into the jars and lifting the jars out of boiling water without some of the tools in a canning kit.
Here are the jars I used, but mine have the black lids. I don't see that they sell the black lids anymore!
A Cranberry Conserve perfect for winter with spices, apricots and nuts
In a large preserving pot or deep, stainless steel saucepan combine cranberries, orange juice, water, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil and then simmer at the lowest temperature, covered, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients or about 10 minutes.
Chop apples, nuts and apricots into small dice
Add sugar, return to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until mixture thickens...about 10-15 minutes.
Add diced apples, nuts and apricots to conserve and cook, stirring constantly for about 5 more minutes
Remove from heat and gel test by placing a small amount of the jam on the plate. Put plate back in freezer for 1 minutes. If when you push it with your finger it wrinkles a bit it is done.
If gel state has been reached, skim off any foam and stir in brandy and ground ginger.
Remove air bubbles and wipe rim with white vinegar.
Place jars in canner, making sure they are completely covered with water by at least one inch.
Boil for 15 minutes
This recipe assumes some knowledge of proper and safe canning techniques. Please see the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for guidance.
So while I made this recipe with a wedge of Camembert in mind, it truly is a versatile condiment:
Other Sweet Preserve Recipes:
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