It’s cranberry time! Although fresh cranberries are ultra-tart, they pair beautifully with sweeter fruits in desserts, jams, and ice cream. (Note: 100% cranberry juice is also incredibly tart. It’s a safe bet that any cranberry drink you order at a bar or restaurant is mostly high-fructose corn syrup with a hint of cranberry juice. If you want to benefit from actual cranberry juice, seek out one of those small bottles of 100% cranberry juice — yes, the real stuff is expensive as well as tart — and mix it with unflavored sparkling water and a shot of orange juice or cider. Likewise, most dried cranberries are drenched in sugar and cheap oil. Seek out unsweetened cranberries if you’d like to include them in your muffins and trail mixes.)
Aside from their gorgeous hue and refreshingly tart flavor, cranberries also contain a fair amount of pectin, a type of fiber that has amazing gelling power. That means that cranberries make a satisfyingly thick jam when simmered with some water and a drizzle of maple syrup. Apples contain pectin, too, which means your jam will be all the thicker if you simmer your cranberries in cider. But if you don’t have cider on hand, water works nearly as well, especially when you add a dash of cinnamon for flavor.
Blueberry-Cranberry Cider Jam
Makes a generous cup of jam.
4 oz. frozen wild blueberries
4 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
2 T. maple syrup
1/2 cup cider OR water*
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and let simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Mash berries with a potato masher to break them up and continue to simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Let stand off heat until completely cooled before storing in a glass jar. Jam can be refrigerated for a week. My favorite way to enjoy jam is served on toast or a muffin with a pat of butter!
* Cider contains sweetness as well as pectin, so if you use water instead of cider, increase the maple syrup to 1/4 cup. Or go ahead and use 1/4 cup if you’d simply prefer sweeter jam.
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