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Spiced Winter Cranberry Conserve Recipe

A Spiced Winter Cranberry Conserve Recipe with warming Brandy, Cinnamon, Ginger, and Cardamom. When thinking about this cranberry conserve, think of a cranberry jam recipe with a thicker, chunkier texture….either way, it’s a perfect excuse for canning cranberries and a wonderful winter jam recipe or to enjoy year-round! 

But you can also freeze or refrigerate this conserve if you don’t feel like canning it. Instructions are below.

6-ounce Hexagon Jars with Lids

I just can’t help it.

When the days become 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. Canning cranberries and winter jam recipes always say to me, “winter is coming”

Close up of cranberry conserve in serving cup for winter dining

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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 winter cranberry jam recipe that would be thick and chunky and ‘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.

Crushed Cardamom

Before we get too far down the track, let’s just back up and spend a quick minute discussing some of 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, which might be even looser than a jam.

Marmalades are typically jams made with the rinds of citrus fruit

cranberry conserve in a silver cup

Conserves are basically thick, chunky jams with additional dried fruits and nuts tossed in.

So, back to my splendid Spiced Cranberry Conserve recipe…it’s everything I had hoped it would be and then some – a thick, chunky cranberry jam a perfect use for canning, freezing or refrigerating cranberries. Tangy dried apricots and walnuts also add to the texture and flavor of this Spiced Cranberry Conserve recipe as well.

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?

Top a wedge of Brie or a round of Camembert with this Spiced Winter Jam for a delicious holiday appetizer.

If you are familiar with cranberry relish, this conserve is along the same lines…but maybe a bit softer. These winter jam recipes pair so well with many cheeses as amazing appetizers for your holiday gatherings! 

This Jelly + Jam Making Basics 101 article discusses Jam Making Basics, including the main ingredients of jams and jellies, their importance, and the basic equipment for making jams and jellies. Additionally, we discuss the differences between various jellied fruits and vegetables. It’s a great resource for new canners or anyone needing a refresh.

Winter Cranberry Conserve is the perfect gift and treat for Christmas
Spiced Winter Cranberry Conserve

Crochet Edged Linen Napkins Tutorial

Water Bath Can or Refrigerate Your Preserves

Whether you water bath can or refrigerate/freeze your preserves is up to you.

Water bath canning is a method of preserving preserves, jams, and jellies to make them shelf-stable for up to two years. I walk you through the water bath canning process, but I HIGHLY RECOMMEND The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving if this is your first time making canned preserves.

To make your preserves shelf stable, all you need is an additional 30 minutes of your time, a water bath canner or pot deep enough to cover your jars by 2 inches, andjars suitable for water bath canning like these or  Half-Pint Mason Jars with Self-Sealing Lids. A few more inexpensive pieces of equipment make your canning experience more enjoyable and efficient: a jar/can liftermagnetic canning lid lifter, and headspace gauge itemized below.

If you’d rather refrigerate or freeze your preserves…

The only equipment you still need to prepare is your jars and lids. Just make sure that they are clean and freezer-stable jars. The best jars for freezing are those without shoulders, but instead are straight-sided. Mason jars are great jars to freeze preserves, jams, and jellies in.

Follow the directions as written, ignoring any references to preparing canning equipment. When you reach the directions to ladle the preserves into the jars, leave 1″ of headspace instead of 1/4″. Place lids on the jars and let them come to room temperature. Once they are at room temperature, you can refrigerate or freeze the jars. Your jars of preserves will keep in the freezer for 1 year and 1 month in the refrigerator.

Jam on brie

Here are the jars I used, but mine have the black lids.

Winter Cranberry Conserve is the perfect gift
Spiced Winter Cranberry Conserve

How to Serve Your Winter Cranberry Conserve

While I made this recipe with a wedge of Camembert in mind, it truly is a versatile condiment:

  • We recently made Cubano sandwiches, but instead of mustard and pickle, I put a dollop of this Winter Cranberry Conserve on my sandwich with roast pork, ham, and Swiss cheese. DE…LISH!
  • My son smears it on his biscuits.
  • It will be delicious with turkey and pork.
  • I can’t wait to use it on a meat and cheese tray.
  • These lovely jars of winter cranberry jam deliciousness also make wonderful holiday gifts. Attach a sweet little spoon to each jar when you give them.

Looking for More Jam Recipes?

Made with pears, dried cranberries, cinnamon, and ginger, this Cranberry Pear Jam is a lovely fall/winter preserve. Bursting with the warm and comforting flavors of rum and spices, this homemade pear jam is a true treat for your taste buds. Red wine is flavored with classic mulling spices for this delightful Mulled Wine Jelly. Finally, this Yellow Plum Jam Recipe uses cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger for their warming flavors.

Spiced Winter Cranberry Conserve Recipe

Winter Spiced Cranberry Conserve Recipe

Cranberry Conserve: a perfect winter jam recipe with cranberries, spices, apricots, and nuts
4.58 from 28 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Canning Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Canning, Preserving, Jam + Jellies
Cuisine American
Servings 5 1/2 pint jars
Calories 172 kcal


  • 4 cups cranberries fresh or frozen
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 TBS crushed cardamom pods tied up in a cheesecloth or put in a tea strainer
  • 4-5 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 apple I used a Granny Smith
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots diced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts diced
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 TB brandy


  • Prepare canner, jars and lids. See The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for guidance
  • Place a saucer in your freezer
  • 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 the plate back in the freezer for 1 minute. If when you push it with your finger it wrinkles a bit it is done.
  • If gel state has been reached, remove cardamom pods and cinnamon and skim off any foam. Stir in brandy and ground ginger.
  • Spoon your jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
  • Remove air bubbles and wipe the rim with white vinegar.
  • Center lid on the jar
  • Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.
  • Place jars in canner, making sure they are completely covered with water by at least one inch.
  • Cover pot and bring to a boil
  • Boil for 15 minutes
  • Turn heat off, remove the lid and let sit for 5 minutes
  • Carefully remove jars with a jar lifter and place them on a rack where they can be undisturbed for 24 hours.
  • Refrigerate any jars if their lids don’t pop down.


This recipe assumes some knowledge of proper and safe canning techniques. Please see the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for guidance.


Serving: 1ounceCalories: 172kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 1gFat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 2mgFiber: 2gSugar: 36g
Keyword canning, conserve, cranberry, spiced
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Pin showing cranberry conserve on brie

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    1. Happy Friday my Friend! Hope it is a good day where you are!

      I do love those jars too. And not for nothing, I don’t think I have ever had one that didn’t seal after I processed them in a water bath!

      Here’s where I get them:


      I use the 6 oz for my jams/jellies/preserves…the perfect gift size.

      I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

      Hugs, Lynn

  1. Glad you explained what a “conserve” is b/c I was wondering. I’ve heard of it & figured it was something to do with jellies. This looks so good, and I’m sure it’s delicious served up with brie! I’m like you…I’m a little more interested in staying in & doing a spot of cooking during Fall. I’m not a cook, but some things I do.

    1. Florence, it is DIVINE served with Brie! In fact, taking it out of town with me this weekend to share at our tailgate!

      Thanks for visiting my friend.

      Hugs, Lynn

  2. This looks wonderful. Just wondering if instead of canning (which I have never done) could this be frozen in containers instead. I am thinking of making this to serve with pork tenderloin. Will try immediately.

    1. Hi Erin! Oh my, it will be so good with your pork tenderloin. I would imagine it would be fine in the freezer. I made mine a month ago and have had a little bit in the fridge since then…just finished it up this weekend. I do believe you will love it…I can eat it by the spoonful!

      Many hugs, Lynn

    1. Good Morning Chris! I hope you are well.

      The font I used for the Winter Cranberry Conserve label is Vellesa Script. I either got it at Fonts.com or daFont.com, but I know I didn’t pay for it…it was a free font.

      Hope this helps. Have a great day my friend.

      Hugs, Lynn

  3. Dear Lynn,
    Oh my gosh, this i s one of the best conserves I have ever made, many thanks to you. To tell you the truth, I made this with Splenda and it worked perfectly. I have many diabetics in my life and am so happy you made this recipe available. This is perfect!

    1. Oh Claudia, I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed it so and that the Splenda worked well in this conserve. It is one of my family’s favorites as well…the truth is we eat it by the spoonful!

      Wishing you a wonderful day today my friend.

      Hugs, Lynn

    1. Hi Janet, while I haven’t frozen it, I don’t see why not. Just make sure you leave plenty of room for expansion! Think you would need more than the 1/4″ in the recipe.

      If you get a chance, pop back in and let me know how the conserve did in the freezer.

      Have a great day my friend.

      Hugs, Lynn

  4. I have made this many times; it has become a family favorite! We have it with ham, pork, or poultry, on cheese, or just on toast and it’s always delicious. Thank you so much for creating it and I just felt it was high time I leave you a little love for it!

    1. Hi Lynne, you have made me all pink in the cheeks and beaming! That one of my recipes has found its way to your family table and has become a family favorite is the fuel to my fire. I can’t thank you enough for your kind words and taking the time to post them. Truly, it means the world to me.

      Wishing you and your family and wonderful holiday, filled with joy and Cranberry Conserve!

      Many Hugs, Lynn

  5. HI Lynn, I am wondering if you have ever made this and served it right away instead of going through the canning process? I admit I am a bit skiddish of the water baths and all. I’d love to make it and serve it if possible. Thanks!

  6. Can this be made with brandy essence instead of actual brandy, or could I substitute something else? My household doesn’t drink alcohol, and I very rarely use it to cook with, so I’d hate to buy a bottle just for 2 tablespoons. This looks amazing!!

    1. My gut is that you could! I just looked at substitutions and the recommendation is about 1/5th of the brandy. So I think that’s close to 1 teaspoon of extract. Let me know how it works out! I’m sure you aren’t the only one with that situation.

      Have a great day!


    1. Hi Lauren,

      To be honest, I can’t for sure say. It’s been a couple of years, but I think I found it at Marshalls or TJ Maxx. Enjoy the conserve and your neighbors will love it!


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