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  • Writer's pictureElaine

Pickled Cranberries

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

Without a doubt, pickling is my favorite way to use November's seasonal cranberries. These little red pearls of pure spicy yum have edged out everyone's perennial favorite, Cranberry Coriander Mint Chutney, which I have been making for decades. This pickled berry is unusual, beautiful, and delicious!

How has your holiday charcuterie survived without these?

Because these are perfect holiday gifts and pretty on a charcuterie board, plan ahead and order some special sized, attractive canning jars. Wide mouth is nice. But ordinary little 1/4 pint ball jars are sweet too.

The trick of this recipe is to make a cheesecloth bundle tied up with your spices. This goes into the brine and is then removed so the jar brine stays clear. Easy to do.

This recipe makes exactly 4 pints of pickles (which you can either can in pint jars, or spread across half pints, or even 1/4 pints.) It's a small batch. I make two batches at a time but in two separate pots to be sure my spices, measurements and timing are all perfect. Have your big water bath pot ready to boil too.

When you take the berries out of the brine they will be quite sticky. No worries. They rehydrate after processing. But this does make loading the berries into the jars a bit of a challenge. It's worth it.

The leftover sweet liquid is delicious mixed into a salad dressing, sparkling water, or even a gin and tonic.


  • 3 12- ounce bags of cranberries

  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar

  • 3/4 cup filtered water

  • 2 1/2 cups granulated white sugar

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 1 inch segment of fresh ginger sliced

  • 1 teaspoon allspice berries

  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns


  • Prepare a boiling water bath canner and sterilize your jars and lids. I use my dishwasher to clean my jars.

  • Wash cranberries and pick over for any stems or bad berries.

  • Combine vinegar, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring the brine to a boil to dissolve sugar. Add cinnamon sticks to the brine.

  • Place sliced, fresh ginger, allspice berries, whole cloves, and black peppercorns in a spice bag or tie them up in a length of cheesecloth. Add them to the brine.

  • Once the brine is boiling vigorously, add the cranberries. Stir to combine and cook for exactly 5 minutes. Some berries will pop but, ideally, you want the berries to stay whole, not break down.

  • When cooking time has elapsed, remove pot from heat. Pull out the spice bag and cinnamon sticks. Break cinnamon sticks into pieces and set aside.

  • Using a slotted spoon, remove cranberries from the brine into a bowl. Spoon cranberries into prepared jars. As you load the jars, use a chopstick to help nudge berries down into jars but try not to puncture them or squeeze them down. Just use all the space in the jar. Cover berries with brine, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Place a cinnamon stick segment into each jar.

  • Wipe jar rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

  • This is a very sticky, sweet brine. Be certain to remove jar rings after the jars cool. Check the seals. Wash the jars and rims carefully and well with a warm, wet cloth. Any spillover will be gross and sticky in no time. Put the rings through the dishwasher and then have available for transport of the pickles.

  • Let jars sit for at least 24 hours before eating for the flavors to ripen.

Try the pickles with a bite of Roquefort cheese! Delicious with fish, chicken or pork, salads, hummus, charcuterie.

Thank you 🙏🏻 is due to Marissa McClellan, pickling Master and mentor, author of my longtime favorite pickling recipe book "Food in Jars". This is her recipe reproduced here.

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