Oh, don’t think that we make our own juice all the time. For the most part, we buy juice at the store, just like you probably do (although we have been tempted to make freshly-squeezed orange juice when oranges are in season). Well, maybe not all of you. For example, when we buy juice, we always look to see “not from concentrate” on the label. We just don’t see the point of buying supposedly fresh juice that’s actually just concentrate and water. We can add water to frozen cans, thank you very much. So, why scratch out our own cranberry juice?
Simply because we can, and we’ve never done it before. The more complicated reason is that we wanted a nice drink for a lunch we were putting together, and we thought that cranberry mixed with carbonated water would fit the bill. Sure, we could have bought the juice, but what’s the fun in that?
This recipe came from Kitchen Simplicity and we made it without varying a thing — well, except the amounts for some of the ingredients, so it would match the 12-ounce bags of cranberries sold in the store. Plus, we decreased the amount of sugar.
While we used fresh cranberries, the original recipe also indicates that frozen cranberries could be used, so you don’t have to make this only in the fall. We recommend starting with 3/4 cup of sugar; it was perfect for us, but you might like your juice a bit sweeter. Of course, feel free to taste the juice before sweetening it — tart!
Procedure in detail:
Boil cranberries. Bring the cranberries and water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover the pan, and let it bubble away for 10 minutes to extract the cranberry flavor. By then all the cranberries should have popped — they sound like muffled popcorn popping.
Strain cranberries. Place a piece of butter muslin in a colander set over a large bowl and pour in the cranberries and juice. Let it drain until it stops dripping. Do not try to hurry it along by pressing on the berries, or some of the fine berry particles will be pressed through into your juice, making it cloudy. We just set the bowl, colander and all, right in the refrigerator overnight.
Boil juice and sugar. Put the juice in a saucepan, add the sugar, and start warming it. Taste and adjust the amount of sugar now. This makes sure all the sugar dissolves — no one but a child likes sludgy sugar in the bottom of his or her glass of juice — so get the sweetness right now. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer for 3 minutes; this will ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved.
Cool. Let it cool to near room temperature and transfer to an appropriate juice container. We had saved an old orange juice bottle with this in mind. Chill completely in the refrigerator before enjoying your own 100% scratched cranberry juice.
Make cranberry sauce. Wondering what to do with all those berries you have sitting in the piece of muslin? Well, we scraped them into a pan, added about 1/2 cup of sugar and brought it all to a simmer (to make sure that the sugar dissolves). You can use your favorite cranberry sauce recipe — we hear that some people like orange flavoring added. Pack in an airtight container and chill; you have cranberry sauce, too. How cool is that?
While we probably won’t be making cranberry juice every time we want some, it was fun to make. It tastes just like the stuff in the bottles, and, when we make it ourselves, we know exactly what’s in it (and what’s not). Plus, you get cranberry sauce, too. So it’s not as if you’re even missing out on anything, nor is anything going to waste. For the easy process, and the no-waste option, five