Cranberry Processing

Oregon Cranberries

I bought some cranberries at our local farmers’ market that were from Bandon, OR. The farmer claimed that Bandon cranberries are the sweetest in the world. I would call them the least sour in the world, perhaps. The price was right ($2.50 lb) so I bought 10 pounds. I forgot I was on my bike and when it came time to ride home I had to contrive a makeshift strap to hold the box and my market bag on the back of my bicycle: I used my pants belt. Luckily, my pants stayed up on the way home and I got everything there safe and sound.

cranberry processingI processed the berries using my Mehu-Liisa steam juicer, of course, and sealed the juice in canning jars for later use. My plan is to use the juice in my yearly hard cider batch.

Fruit Fly Trap

Fruit flies mob my kitchen this time of year and although I don’t really mind their presence (except maybe when they land in my bourbon glass), my wife has little patience for their wee invasion. Therefore, I have devised an effective trap:

Fruit fly trap 1  Fruit fly trap 2  Fruit Fly Trap 3

  1. Fashion a paper cone with a very small hole in the tip (think fruit fly sized).
  2. Add rotting fruit and a little wine or vinegar to a canning jar.
  3. Place cone into jar so the tip is 2-3 inches above the bottom (you may have to adjust the cone size), tape to the mouth or to a lid band (easier to empty and clean).
  4. Set on a shelf near where the flies congregate. They will fly down into the jar and then  not be able to get out due to the shape of the cone and the flies’ exceedingly tiny brains.
  5. Empty as soon as the fruit looks nasty. Refill.

Tips and procedures for processing cranberries:

Cranberry processing 3 Cranberry processing 1 Cranberry processing 2 Cranberry processing 4






To start, I set the covered water pan (full to 1 inch below rim) on the stove to come to a boil. While that is heating, I wash the berries in the sink and pick out all the field spice. When the berries are clean to my satisfaction (not necessary for them to be free of all plant detritus) I scoop them into the fruit basket of the Mehu-Liisa. At this time you can add sugar to your liking, layered throughout the berries. I might suggest 2 cups for one basket of cranberries. As soon as the water in the pan comes to a steady, not-furious boil I assemble the juicer and start processing:

This first video shows a furious boil: the heat is too high here and you will run the risk of boiling your pan dry and damaging your juicer and your stove.

The second video shows the appropriate steady boil which generates plenty of steam and removes the risk of a burnt water pan.

Now, with the basket full of fruit, I assemble the juicer with the lid in place (it’s been left off in the image) and set the timer for 30 minutes.

Cranberry processing 5   Cranberry processing 7  Cranberry processing 6

The lids for the canning jars are set to boil for 5 minutes. When they are done, I take them off the heat and leave them in the hot water. Also, clean canning jars can be held in a hot oven (225 degrees) for over 20 min. to keep them sanitized.

Cranberry processing 13  Cranberry processing 12  Cranberry processing 11

After about 10 min. or so the berries start to reduce and the skins split open. There is a bit of juice in the kettle and steam is escaping from between the parts of the juicer. This is desirable as it decreases condensation inside the juicer and improves the concentration and quality of the juice.

Cranberry processing 10  Cranberry processing 9   Cranberry processing 8

After 30 min. the berries have reduced by 1/3, juice is at about 2 quarts and the water has reduced 1/3. I add a bit more water and set the timer for 20 more min. Anything longer than 40 – 50 min. with berries is unnecessary.

Cranberry processing 15  Cranberry processing 19  Cranberry processing 20

After 50 min. the berries are below 50% of their original bulk. It’s time to draw off the juice. I like to use a 2 quart measuring pan with a handle to hold the hot bottle. Holding the bottle below the level of the stove, I carefully release the clamp and let the hot juice drain into the jar. Gloves are highly recommended for this part of the process as the steam can burn quickly and easily (I’m just a leather skinned veteran).

Cranberry processing 18  Cranberry processing 17  Cranberry processing 16

You may prefer to set your jar on top of a stool so you have better control of the clamp. There is the finished product: a half gallon of super concentrated cranberry juice (in all I got almost a gallon of juice). As a drink, I would dilute this from 1/3 to 1/2 with water or bubbly water. Of course, sugar of some sort will be necessary to sweeten at the time of consumption if you did not add sweetener during the processing.


The berries cost $25

The yield was .75 gallon

cost per quart $8.30

If I dilute the concentrated juice by 1/2, the cost is $4.15 per quart or $1.30 per 10 oz. serving. These numbers can be brought down by u-picking the berries or purchasing 2nds.

There are many uses for this wonderful juice: clear jellies, syrups for pancakes and ice cream, simple syrup for cocktails, wine, or as part of your hard cider recipe.


About dheila62

Manager at Mehu-Liisa Products, importer of the Mehu-Liisa Steam Juicer from Finland.
This entry was posted in Cranberries, Seasonal Fruit, Tips and Techniques, video and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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