How to make cranberry juice
Homemade cranberry juice
Cranberry juice is as nutritious as it is delicious. Its health benefits include everything from boosting immunity to improving stomach, bladder and heart health. But most store-bought brands are sweetened with added sugars, colors and preservatives that can raise the calorie count and counteract some of its benefits Even some of the seemingly healthier brands often contain added ingredients that keep it shelf stable.
Making cranberry juice at home is a great way to ensure that you’re getting a fresh, additive-free product that’s as sweet or as sour as you like it. Plus, cranberry juice is easier to make than you might think. All you need is a pot, a blender and a strainer. Keep reading to learn an easy-to-follow method for juicing cranberries at home.
Health benefits of cranberry juice
Vitamins and minerals
Cranberry juice contains a long list of essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, Vitamin K, folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Boosts immune system
Cranberries are rich in Vitamin C — a powerful antioxidant that fights oxidative stress in the body and keeps your immune system functioning properly. Vitamin C also has anti-aging benefits because it helps boost collagen production and rebuild tissue. And the flavonoids in cranberries can help stop the growth of cancer cells and fight age-related damage.
Cranberry juice is known for boosting urinary tract and bladder health. Some research shows that cranberry juice might also prevent urinary tract infections by keeping bacteria like E. Coli from collecting on the walls of the urinary tract system. Cranberry juice might also protect against yeast infections.
The flavonoids in cranberry juice are shown in some studies to reduce hardening in the arteries, lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. It also might slow the progression of atherosclerosis, a condition that restricts blood flow in the arteries.
Cranberries contain several antioxidants including A-type proanthocyanidins, which help prohibit the growth of the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers. Drinking cranberry juice can help prevent ulcers from forming and soothe existing ulcers. The phytochemicals in cranberries have also been shown to contribute to digestive health overall.
Making cranberry juice from scratch
Cranberry juice is essentially made by cooking cranberries in filtered water and then straining out the juice. Both fresh and frozen cranberries work for juicing. You can also add some agave nectar, honey or sugar if you like your cranberry juice on the sweeter side. You’ll need a large pot, a food mill or immersion blender, and a fine-mesh strainer. In general, 4 cups of cranberries will yield about 8 servings of juice.
Cook the cranberries
Add 4 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries and 4 cups of water to a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. As soon as the cranberries begin to bubble, reduce the heat and simmer them slowly until the berries start to pop and break down — about 20-25 minutes.
Blend the cranberries
Remove the pot from the heat and carefully blend the cranberries using an immersion blender until it resembles a thick pulp. You can also pass the cranberries through a food mill to achieve the same results. If you don’t have a food mill or a blender, you could use a potato masher to coarsely mash the cranberries before straining.
Sweeten the cranberries
Add optional sweetener at this stage depending on your preferences. We suggest using about 1/4-1/2 cup of agave nectar, sugar or honey for 4 cups of cranberries, but you’ll want to adjust this measurement depending on how sweet you like your juice. A good rule of thumb is to start small and taste as you go.
Honey is your healthiest option for sweetening the juice because it contains beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. If using raw honey, make sure your cooked cranberries have cooled slightly before adding it, because hot temperatures can kill off some of the beneficial enzymes.
Strain out the juice
Use a fine mesh sieve to strain out the cranberry juice into a large pitcher or bowl, gently stirring the mixture with a rubber spatula to help it through the strainer. Enjoy the juice warm or cool it down in the refrigerator. Toss the pulp into your compost bin or save it to add to muffins or other baked goods for some added flavor and nutrition.
How to make cranberry juice in an instant pot
You can also cook the cranberries in an instant pot to free up some stove space. Add the cranberries and water to the pot, close and seal the lid, and set it to cook for 8 minutes. Once the cooking is completed, press “cancel” to turn off the instant pot and allow it to naturally release pressure. Once the pressure is released and the mixture is cool enough to handle, strain out the juice using a fine mesh sieve or colander lined with a layer of cheesecloth. Some instant pot models have an option to remove the “keep warm” function, so the juice will begin cooling as soon as cooking is completed.
Storing cranberry juice
Fresh cranberry juice is best enjoyed right away, but it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also keep the juice in your freezer for up to a year.
Serving cranberry juice
Cranberry juice makes a great beverage on its own, but it can also be blended with apple, grape, lemon or orange juices for additional flavor. Try mixing cranberry juice with seltzer water, iced tea or lemonade for a refreshing afternoon drink or adding it to a smoothie with mixed berries or yogurt. Or step up your cocktail game by adding fresh cranberry juice to a cosmopolitan or a margarita. In colder months, try drinking the cranberry juice hot as a cider, adding some orange zest or a cinnamon stick.
Katy Severson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.