This Cranberry Apple Jam is one of my favorite Winter treats thanks to warming spices and sweet tart flavors. Incredibly versatile, it can be served alongside both sweet and savory with anything from scones to sandwiches. A must-have for your pantry!
Have you always shied away from making jam? I get it! Jam has a bad rap of being extremely difficult to make but this recipe is ready to prove otherwise. Forget slaving over the stove all day, this is one of the easiest jams to make and perfect for beginners.
This is because apples and cranberries naturally produce pectin so you can skip the store-bought which requires a few more fiddly steps. Pectin is a starch required for jellies and jams to set and when using store-bought it leaves a foamy residue that you need to scrape off.
Instead, with this fuss-free recipe you simply need to chuck all your ingredients into a pot and let the stove work its magic. Although minimal effort, it promises maximum flavor with sweet from the apples, tart from the cranberries and a warming embrace of Winter spice with its unique flavor profiles.
Give your PB & J sandwiches a seasonal twist or serve it as the star of the show on your holiday charcuterie board. This cranberry apple jam also pairs perfectly with turkey or as an appetizer on brie. Not forgetting sweet treats such as scones, or as a festive filling in my cranberry orange cake.
The Winter months can also be a demanding time for gifts and guests so throw on a bow and delight your friends and family with this homemade treat. They’ll expect hours of blood, sweat and tears went into your gift, but don’t worry your secret's safe with us. Just make sure to keep some for yourself though as this jam is THE BEST on toast!
WHY WE LOVE THIS CRANBERRY APPLE JAM
- A seasonal favorite – This cranberry apple jam is great to have on hand for fall baking as well as the perfect partner for traditional holiday turkey.
- It’s speedy – You’ve maybe avoided jam making in the past as it’s infamous for being a lengthy, complex process. Not with this recipe! My fuss-free method will save you time and stress.
- Looks as good as it tastes – The vibrant red color of this cranberry apple jam is ideal for the holiday season. It will brighten your cheeseboard and add a little oomph to those Thanksgiving leftovers.
- Simple ingredients – This recipe doesn’t call for any exotic ingredients. In fact, you likely have the majority already in your pantry. Apples have a natural pectin, so you don't need the store-bought kind.
APPLE CRANBERRY JAM INGREDIENTS/SHOPPING LIST
- Red and green apples- I like to use a combination of sweet apples and tart ones.
- Fresh tart cranberries
- Apple juice- You can replace this with orange juice for a citrusy flavor
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground cloves
- Ground ginger
- Lemons or lemon juice
SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS
- Cranberries – If you cannot source fresh cranberries you can substitute with frozen, just make sure they’re thawed. You can also use Partridgeberries which are a smaller, more tart version of a cranberry. They pair equally well with apples and will work perfectly in this recipe.
- Switch up the citrus – Instead of the zest of lemons, feel free to use an orange zest instead.
- Have fun with flavor - It’s totally up to your tastes, you can include as little or as much aromatics as you wish. While I’ve used cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and ginger you could also use star anise, cardamom and allspice. Or, skip the spices and use vanilla bean instead!
- Make it mulled – If you’re feeling festive, add red wine or cherry brandy for a mulled wine vibe.
- Cinnamon: I use ground cinnamon but you could add a cinnamon sticks to the cranberries while they cook for added flavor and spice. Just make sure to carefully remove them before pouring the jam into the jars.
RECOMMENDED TOOLS TO MAKE THIS HOMEMADE JAM
- Apple peeler and corer
- Large tall pot
- Wooden Spoon/spatula
- Clean canning jars- I use 8oz jars or 4oz size jars
- Water bath (or large pot with lid)
HOW TO MAKE THIS CRANBERRY APPLE JAM RECIPE
Forget spending hours sweating over a simmering stove, this cranberry apple jam is ready in under an hour. Taking advantage of the fruits’ high pectin content it will set beautifully with minimal effort and promise an unforgettable flavor of sugar, spice and all things nice.
1. In a large TALL pot add all of the ingredients.
2. Cook on a high heat, stirring occasionally. PRO TIP: Stirring is important to avoid scorching and your sugar sticking to the base of the pot.
3. Once cranberries begin to pop, reduce heat to medium.
4. Add the zest and juice of the two lemons.
5. Continue to cook jam until it begins to thicken and become syrupy, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. This should take around 30 minutes.
6. While the jam is cooking, prepare jars. Using clean jars, place in hot water.
7. Bring water bath to boil PRO TIP: Alternatively, use a large pot with a dish towel filled up ⅔ of the way with water then cover and bring to boil.
8. When the jam is thick and syrupy (it will thicken considerably when cool), remove jars from hot water.
9. Carefully ladle hot jam into jars leaving a 1-inch headspace from the rim.
10. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and submerge in the water bath.
11. Cover pot and boil jars for about 10 minutes.
12. Carefully remove and cool completely.
- Stirring at the start - During the first phase, you only want to stir the jam enough to prevent scorching, until the sugar has melted. Once boiling, avoid stirring as often as it actually lowers the temperature and delays the setting point being reached.
- The perfect temperature – it’s important to reduce the heat when directed to avoid crystallization. If the temperature is too hot, crystals can form on the side of the pot. Jam can also crystalize if your jars are not spotlessly clean.
- Cover up – Some people prefer to partially cover the pot to avoid hot, bubbling jam spurting out. Note, covering the pot may make the jam cook slower.
- No cooling - Do not allow the jam to cool down before ladling it into the jars. It’s important you ladle it in still hot before adding the jars into the boiling water otherwise the difference in temperature may cause the jars to crack, wasting your jam, time, and money!
- Bigger batch - This recipe will make 8-10 8 ounce jars or approximately 4-5 16 ounce jars. It can easily be doubled or tripled if you'd like to make more to give as gifts. Just make sure you're pan is very large as the jam could boil over.
- Water bath - If you do not have a pan for a water bath, use a large pan (with a lid) and place a thick dish towel at the bottom. Fill with water and bring to boil. Proceed as the directions are written for the water bath.
- Once you have removed the jars, allow them to cool completely at room temperature. This will take around 12-24 hours. This process will also help the jars to seal and jam to thicken.
- Double check all the jars are sealed correctly. If so, these can be stored in a cool, dry place (your pantry is perfect) for up to 18 months.
- If any seals have failed, any unsealed jams will need to be stored in the refrigerator. I advise using these within a week or two.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT TYPE OF APPLES ARE BEST FOR MAKING APPLE CRANBERRY JAM?
You can use any kind of apple you like, I used a mix of both red and green. Granny Smith apples for example are more tart than sweet so maybe opt for Golden Delicious juicy apples or Pink Lady apples to balance the tart flavor of the cranberries. You could even use crabapples which are more sour tasting but they have a super high pectin which helps with the setting process.
WHY IS MY JAM NOT THICKENING?
There can be a multitude of reasons but the usual culprit for jam being runny and not thickening is a low cooking temperature. The temperature will significantly impact the thickness of your jam as it needs to be hot enough for the pectin or other gelling agents to set. If the temperature goes too high, it can also become too sticky and gummy. If you’d prefer to get precise, the ideal jam sets when taken to 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY JAM IS SET?
There are a few ways to test if your jam is set. Firstly, pop a plate in the freezer at the start of your cooking time. Once you think that your jam has reached its setting point, spoon a little bit of the jam onto the cold plate. Then you can either tilt it vertically so the jam runs – if it’s slow, it’s set. Or, run your finger through the jam. If it leaves a line in the jam, it should be set.
BEST WAYS TO USE THIS CRANBERRY APPLE JAM?
There are so many ways to use this cranberry apple jam. It pairs well with both sweet and savory recipes including:
- Add a generous dollop to buckwheat crackers as part of your holiday charcuterie board.
- Use it as a replacement for traditional cranberry sauce with turkey
- Serve with delicious maple oat scones or in cakes and other baked goods
- Give your PB&J sandwiches a grown up makeover
- Simply spread on toast for a deliciously easy snack
- Top your wheel of triple cream brie with the jam then wrap in raw flakey puff pastry. Brush with an egg wash and bake until golden brown. It's a quick and delicious holiday appetizer!
- Serve over ice cream!
OTHER RECIPES YOU MAY ENJOY
- Strawberry mint jam
- Cranberry Sauce Coffee Cake
- White chocolate cranberry oatmeal cookies
- Apple pie bars
This Cranberry Apple Jam is one of my favorite Winter treats thanks to warming spices and sweet tart flavors.
- 1 cup quick oats
- 1 ⅔ cups flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons cold butter (small pieces)
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup half-and-half plus more for basting
- ⅔ cup coarsely chopped pecans
In a large pot add all of the ingredients.
Cook on high heat stirring occasionally.
Once cranberries begin to pop, reduce heat to medium.
Add the zest and juice of the two lemons.
Continue to cook jam until it begins to thicken and become syrupy, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
While jam is cooking, prepare jars. Using clean jars, place in hot hot water.
Bring water bath to boil (or large pot with dish towel filled up ⅔ of the way with water then cover and bring to boil).
When jam is thick and syrupy (it will thicken considerably when cool), remove jars from hot water.
Carefully ladle hot jam into jars.
Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and submerge in the water bath.
Boil jars for about 10 minutes.
Carefully remove and cool completely.
Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into dry mixture until butter pieces are the sizes of peas.
Stir in maple syrup.
Add half and half and egg and mix with wooden spoon until most of the flour is incorporated.
Gently mix in chopped nuts.
On a lightly floured surface, make a thick 2 inch disk with scone dough and cut into 8 wedges.
Baste wedges with half and half.
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 12 minutes, or until light brown.