Cranberries are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants, and they’re plentiful in grocery stores at this time of year. Take advantage of the seasonal treats and use fresh (or frozen year round) cranberries to make your own cranberry juice at home. This way, you can add just as much sugar as you’d like and leave out all the extra preservatives and junk that can find its way into bottled juices. One pound of cranberries will make one quart of juice. Fresh cranberries will last for about five days in the refrigerator. If you’re not going to use them by then, wash and dry them, then stick them in a zip-top plastic bag and throw them in your freezer. They’ll keep for a very long time that way.
To check the freshness of your cranberries (and have a little fun), bounce one on your kitchen counter-if it bounces, it’s good!
When you’re ready to make your juice, wash your cranberries and discard any that are soft and mushy. Then put all of the berries in a large saucepan along with three slices from an orange, five cups of water and a pinch of salt. Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. To save time and money you could alternatively purchase a juicer, you can find some good reviews at Reviewyourjuicer.
After 10 minutes, all of your berries should have popped, if not, keep simmering until they do.
Next, line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth and strain your cranberries into a large measuring cup or bowl. Use a wooden spoon to push the solids against the strainer, extracting as much juice as you can.
Chunk the solids into your compost bin and return the juice to the pot.
Bring the juice to a boil again and add in your sugar, stirring until dissolved. I usually end up using a little less than half a cup of sugar. Start with about ¼ a cup and taste as you go. You can always add more, but you can’t take sugar away if you’ve added too much.
When you’ve got the juice sweetened to your desire, pour it into a pitcher and let it cool, then put it in the refrigerator to chill.
You can enjoy your homemade cranberry juice for breakfast, or combine it with some homemade lemonade or sparkling water for a nice afternoon treat.
You can also use the bright red juice to make holiday cocktails for yourself or holiday guests.
One tasty option that everyone seems to enjoy is the Cape Cod. Just fill a highball glass with ice, pour in a shot of vodka, squeeze in a lime wedge and top off with your cranberry juice. Give your drink a quick stir and enjoy it. With all that vitamin C, it’s practically healthy!