Cranberry Rum Sauce: Good for Gift-Giving, Better for Eating a Jar-ful in One Sitting

‘Tis the night before Monday, and I’m so not ready for the long Thanksgiving weekend to be over. I went into this four-day weekend wanting to take an inventory of my various canned goods, and hoping to beef it up a bit to get ready for the next big holiday: Christmas. I was worried I would not have enough canned goods for all the gifting I plan on doing, but, alas, it turns out my closet currently holds 34 jars of various pickled and jammed goodies, all ready for the giving. Fret not, friends and family, you will be fed.

Fresh Cranberries for Cranberry Rum Sauce

I also went into this weekend hoping to enjoy all things cranberry, apple, turkey, and sweet potato, and despite the sheer volume of food I consumed on Thursday, I just wasn’t ready to part with the appetite for such things today. Given my lingering Thanksgiving cravings, and canning frenzy, I made the obvious decision to make cranberry rum sauce today.

Canned Cranberry Rum Sauce

This sauce is hearty, tart, and not too sweet. It is so au naturel, not in the sense that it is lacking flavor, but in the sense that it is just so the essence of cranberry.

Cooking Cranberry Rum Sauce

I’ve included directions on how to can this recipe, for long-term preserving. If you do not have canning equipment, get some! Just kidding. But seriously, add it to your holiday wish list.

If you insist on not getting canning equipment, you can always make a smaller batch, put it in any container you wish, and keep it in the fridge for a few weeks. And let’s be real, I’ll probably finish all 8 1/2 jars that I canned in the next few weeks anyway–I’ve been eating this sauce by the heaping  tablespoonful all day. I’m guessing it has something to do with the not-so-secret ingredient: rum.

Rum for Cranberry Rum Sauce

Fresh Apples and Cranberries for Cranberry Rum Sauce

Cranberry Rum Sauce

Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

Makes 6-8 half-pint jars

3 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

8 whole allspice

6 whole cloves

2 cups sugar

1 2/3 cups water

8 1/2 cups cranberries (You can use either fresh or frozen cranberries. I recommend getting them as fresh and plump as you can.)

2 large apples, cored, peeled, and chopped (I used Golden Delicious apples. Adjust the amount of sugar you use for the sweetness of the apple.)

3/4 cup rum

Cored Apples for Cranberry Rum Sauce

Prepare the jars and lids. Prepare an extra jar or two in case you have extra sauce.

Put the spices in a spice bag and tie it securely. You can make a spice bag out of cheesecloth and string by cutting a square of cheesecloth, placing the spices on it, pulling up the corners, and tying a piece of string around the cloth to create a pouch.

Spices for Cranberry Rum Sauce

Spice Bag for Cranberry Rum Sauce

Combine the water, sugar, and spice bag in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, and stir continuously, until all of the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat, and boil the mixture gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spice Bag in Sugar for Cranberry Rum Sauce

Add the cranberries and apples, and return the mixture to a gentle boil. Stir occasionally, until the cranberry skins burst. As the skins burst, they will make a delightful sound like popcorn popping or wood crackling. The bursting should take about 5 minutes, listen for the popping to slow down. Use a potato masher (or a big fork) to crush the mixture.

Cranberry Rum Sauce Mixture

Add the rum and return the mixture to a boil. Let boil for a minute or two until the rum has been incorporated. Remove the sauce from heat and discard the spice bag.

Ladle the mixture into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Place the lids and rings on the jars. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, then remove lid and heat and let the jars sit for 5 minutes before removing. Let the jars stand for 24 hours, then test the seal, and secure the bands.

Canned Cranberry Rum Sauce

Enjoy this sauce on scones, sandwiched between cookies, or on poultry or pork. Or do as I do and eat it straight from the jar–you’ll be puckering in delight.
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