Sometimes I include recipes here that barely fit my overall blog objective, and today's entry is one of those. It is not particularly fast and, if you don't have raspberries in your yard or in the gardens of friends or family, it is unlikely this would ever fit the "frugal" definition. (And I did have a lot of frozen cranberries because I had been able to get several bags on sale for 39 cents each after the last holiday season, keeping my overall cost very low.)
It is fun, however, to be able to produce jars of this sparkling and slightly tart spread that goes well on toast, waffles, or as a side to a pork roast or other meats. It is also a superb ice cream topping, as the tartness combined with the ice cream really emphasizes the fruit flavor.
Even though neither raspberries or cranberries are in season right now, my freezer needed some clearing out, and so cooking some up into an almost jam was a perfect wintery afternoon project.
Probably the trickiest part of this recipe is the need to be sure to stir the cranberries and sugar pretty constantly in the first 10 minutes or so, because the sugar can quickly burn if left unattended. Use a good heavy pan if you have one.
While the amount of sugar may seem large, remember that this is a kind of jam, and many recipes of this kind (especially those with commercial pectin) have more sugar than fruit. While I would never call these "low sugar" preserves, the sweetener amount is lower than for most mixtures of this type. And remember, both cranberries and raspberries are very tart fruits.
As with other jams, the best test to see if the mixture has "jelled" is to put a small plate in the freezer and then drop a teaspoon or so of the hot fruit mixture on the plate. If running your finger through the middle of the jam leaves a clear path, the preserves are done.
Raspberry Cranberry Preserves
6 c raspberries, fresh or frozen without sugar
3 c cranberries, fresh or frozen
5 c sugar, divided
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t nutmeg
2 T frozen orange concentrate--do not dilute
1. In a large bowl, stir 3 cups of sugar into the raspberries and allow to sit for about an hour.
2. Meanwhile, add the remaining 2 cups of sugar to the cranberries in a heavy, deep pan--the final mixture will boil up, so be sure your pan is large enough. Turn the burner to medium low and begin cooking the cranberries and sugar while stirring pretty constantly. In about 10 minutes or so, the sugar may be completely dissolved and the cranberries will begin "popping." You may turn the heat up to medium high at this point to hasten the overall process.
3. Continue cooking the cranberries until all the berries have popped and the mixture is beginning to thicken, about 5 or so additional minutes. Pour in the raspberries and sugar mixture and continue cooking on medium high until the mixture has returned to a rolling boil.
4. Stir in the spices and orange concentrate and continue cooking for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the mixture sheets off a spoon or until a finger or rubber spatula drawn through a few drops put on a chilled plate hold their shape.
5. Pour into hot jars and seal. If you plan on keeping this for an extended period, process in a hot water bath canner for 15 minutes.
This makes about 4 to 5 pints.
Variation: If desired, stir in one to two teaspoons of vanilla or almond extract after taking the preserves off the heat.