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Canned Cranberry Sauce with Balsamic

Canning Cranberry Sauce -

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and I’m sure you are NOT in the mood to can up any food.

In fact, you are probably just hitting panic mode right now because THERE ARE PEOPLE COMING and YOU HAVE A HOUSE TO CLEAN!

I get that.

But if you are not doing the hosting this year and are instead arriving at someone else’s house to eat, I’ve got you covered on what to bring.

Bring this…

Homemade Cranberry Sauce with a touch of Balsamic Vinegar. 

There will be much rejoicing.

Canned Cranberry Sauce -

Home Canned Cranberry Sauce:

Cranberry sauce is an easy thing to can because it has so much natural pectin. It just sort of takes off on its own. And any homemade version is SO much better than the stuff in the store.

Although this makes a great hostess gift, the party host probably already has their cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. So offer this as something for them to use the next day on their turkey sandwiches.

There is nothing better!


You can make some minor adjustments to the recipe below and it will still work. Cranberries are a high acid food, so these minor adjustments I will spell out here will not affect safety as long as you follow standard water bath canning methods and processing times.

My sauce recipe is a little bit lower in sugar than most canned cranberry sauces. (It is not low sugar. Just lower than most) This means that it will be tart. Taste it before you are done and you may add more sugar if you wish. I have a note on that in the recipe.

Most cranberry sauce recipes call for water. I use fresh squeezed orange juice. I think it tastes better. But you may use water instead if you wish.

You may also add cinnamon or other spices if you wish. Just keep it to a minimum because it can over power the cranberries if you add too much.

Why Balsamic?

My version calls for balsamic vinegar. You can leave it out and the recipe is just as good. I add it to give an unusual zing to the sauce. For me, it takes it to the “fancy” level and is perfect for day-after-Thanksgiving sandwiches.

But you can certainly leave the Balsamic out and it will be more traditional.


Foaming in Cranberry Sauce -

Cranberries are notorious for foaming up when cooked. The foam is harmless, but it is unattractive in your finished product if there is a lot.

But listen…as long as you are not entering this in a county fair, you do not need to freak out over foam.

Here are 3 ways to take care of it:

  • Add a small bit of butter to the sauce as it cooks. That will reduce the foaming a bit.
  • After the sauce is cooked, use a sheet of wax paper to remove it. This is my favorite trick, but you must be careful not to burn yourself.
  • After the sauce is cooked, use a spoon to scrape off the foam. This is the most common way people get rid of it.

Then you can up the sauce as usual.

Cranberry Sauce with Balsamic Recipe:

Home Canned Cranberry Sauce -

This recipe is lower in sugar than most sauce recipes. Notice that I did NOT say “low sugar”. Cranberries are tart little suckers and you need the sugar. But I like a tart cranberry sauce and so I keep it on the lower end of the spectrum as far as traditional recipes go. You can add up to a 1/2 cup more sugar if you wish.

You don’t have to use fresh squeezed OJ. You can use store bought or even water. But fresh squeezed is the best.

Yield: Two 1/2 pint jars (Plus a few tasty spoonfuls for the cook)


  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 12 oz bag of fresh or frozen cranberries (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated orange rind
  • 1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar

1) Prep your water bath canner and heat your jars in the water as you prepare the recipe.

2) In a medium sized, heavy bottom pan combine the orange juice and sugar. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly just until the sugar dissolves.

3) Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the cranberries burst. (It is at this point you would add just a dab of butter to help reduce the foaming – like 1/2 tsp.)

4) Turn off heat and skim off foam if you wish.

5) Ladle the sauce into two half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims and add canning lids.

6) Process in a water bath for 15 minutes. Here is a link for altitude adjustments.

7) If you are eating right away (within a week or two), you can skip the water bath. Let the sauce cool and then store in the refrigerator.

Holiday Fragrances:

As this recipe cooks up on the stove, don’t be surprised if it brings back memories of holidays past. It is true that many of our strongest memories are tied to fragrance.

Are there any holiday fragrances that take you back in time?

Tell me in the comments!

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.