Winter Canning – Cranberry Orange Relish

Having canning withdrawal this winter? Make some cranberry orange relish to eat all year long.

 cranberry orange relish

Do you have the odd bag or two of cranberries taking up space in your freezer? I certainly do. Seems like every time I visit the grocery store during the month of November, I purchase a few bags of fresh tart cranberries. Some of them go into homemade sauce for Thanksgiving dinner, but the rest just end up in the freezer. They certainly can hang out there until next Thanksgiving, but they will be better if not left too long. That’s why I often make cranberry orange relish this time of year. Canning the cranberries keeps them in a more usable form, ready to eat right now.

Cranberries Aren’t Just For Thanksgiving

If you have never eaten cranberries except over the holidays, you should try cranberry orange relish. It’s a great way to perk up a meal, especially during these late winter days when the grocery store produce is starting to look pretty sad. Cranberry orange relish adds something special to pork chops, pot roast, baked chicken, a baked bean meal, or served alongside a one-dish casserole.

Get Your Winter Canning Fix

Let’s face it, there just aren’t that many canning projects for winter. It’s a good time to make spiced apple rings, and maybe applesauce, but not much else. So if you are itching to can something, it makes sense to clean out the freezer and make some cranberry orange relish.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Winter Canning - Cranberry Orange Relish
Cranberry Orange Relish adds a bright, tart flavor to an everyday meal.
Cuisine: American
Recipe type: Side Dishes
Serves: 4 half pints
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (about 1½ bags)
  • 1 large navel orange
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ - 1 cup sugar
  1. Wash orange. Cut unpeeled orange into 6-8 pieces, removing seeds.
  2. Place the cranberries in a food processor. Process until evenly chopped. Spoon into a large saucepan.
  3. Place the orange pieces in a food processor. Process until evenly chopped. Add to the cranberries.
  4. Add water and sugar - less sugar if you like a tart relish, more if you prefer it sweeter.
  5. Simmer over medium heat until cranberries are hot and soft, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Ladle into clean half-pint canning jars.
  7. Relish may be frozen. It also keeps well in the refrigerator for up to a month.


I originally recommended water bath canning the relish. However, it responds best to freezing. Therefore, I now advise against canning this relish due to its low sugar content. Over time the canned product also loses its color, but the frozen product remains bright and fresh.

by Renee Pottle

Renee Pottle, a freelance writer and Home Economist, is fanatic about all things food. She blogs about canning and food preservation at Find her professional food writing info at

February 25, 2015

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  1. Ann

    Why does the recipe need 3 cups of sugar in order to can it successfully?

    • Renee Pottle

      Ann, sugar acts as the preservative in this recipe, similar to jam. The only approved recipe that I can find comes from the Ball Blue book, and it requires 3 cups of sugar.


    what if lemon juice was also added, would that make it shelf stable instead of adding all that sugar?

    • Renee Pottle

      Barb, sorry. There doesn’t seem to be an approved lower sugar cranberry orange relish recipe that is suitable for home canning.

  3. Patricia A Habbyshaw

    So If I needed to can up some that would be used in the next few months, how long would I water bath it for ?
    Thanks a Bunch …
    Freezer is stuffed and not an inch to spare !!! :}

    • Renee Pottle

      Patricia, to can this recipe you must increase the sugar to 3 cups. Then process the half-pint jars in a water bath for 15 minutes.

  4. Sally

    I made ham roll ups using this relish and creme Fraische soooooo good

    • Sally

      Forgot to say I added walnuts to it.

    • admin

      Sounds fantastic!

  5. Mic

    My Grandmother made this, but she added chopped up apples (in addition to the oranges). SOOOOO good.

    • admin

      Mic, apples are good in it, as are chopped pecans! So true that sometimes the best oldest recipes are the best ones. 🙂

  6. Jamy

    I just found out about this relis and love it! Someone made a comment on another site to add 1/4 cup Triple Sec. If that is done, would that make for better canning? Freezing is ok, too, just curious.

    • admin

      Jamy, adding Triple Sec sounds wonderful! But since it doesn’t really change the sugar level I would probably still freeze it instead of canning.



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