Pickled Cranberries with Rosemary + Orange

I’m probably among a small, strange group of folks who have “visit a cranberry bog” on their bucket lists.

Possibly some kind of territorial predisposition having grown up in Wisconsin, I dream of an early autumn road trip to experience the sights, sounds, smells, tastes + feels (read: wade into) the picturesque seas of floating crimson red berries scattered across the state’s central and northern landscape offer during harvest.

Until that day, we’ll continue to amass a small freezer cache each November, happily snacking on, cooking + baking with, and creating new recipes to spread love about this traditionally winter-holidays-only fruit until the next season.

If you’re usually not a fan of cranberries, pickled cranberries flavored with rosemary and orange zest is a lovely way to use up the raw fruit leftovers. In a quick, no-fuss brine of vinegar, a little sugar, some salt, rosemary sprigs + the zest of an orange, tart fresh cranberries become a uniquely sour, tangy, salty, sweet condiment. And because the pickling is done without cooking, the berries retain that skin-snapping pop we love so much.

These dressed-up berries love pork, beef and game + salmon, and are delicious + beautiful decorating toasted bread or crackers slathered with a creamy cheese as an appetizer. Poultry is a natural match as well — say, smoked turkey legs or mole turkey breast — and they would also be an unexpected treat scattered over mixed grains or a green salad, as the tangy counterpoint to an earthy veg main like roasted squash + lentils, or floated in your next cocktail or glass of bubbly!

What’s in it for me?

Cranberries are an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin C and fiber, with one 23-calorie 1/2-cup serving providing roughly 20% of the DV for each, as well as vitamins E and Kmanganese and potassium. Studies show that polyphenols called proanthocyanidins, found in rich supply in cranberries, may lower cholesterol and reduce risk of atherosclerosis, promote dental and urinary tract health, help fight infections, and may protect against certain cancers. Furthermore, tannins in fruits like cranberries and grapes, have anti-bacterial properties.

Fun facts: Did you know that Wisconsin is consistently the country’s top producer, providing roughly 60% of the US cranberry crop annually? (Massachusetts comes in at number two with about 25-30%, and the remainder coming from New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.) Once called the “crane berry” after the red-headed sandhill cranes in the area, the cranberry is Wisconsin’s state fruit, and holds the title of the state’s number one fruit crop.

Rosemary is a fair source of vitamin A, and also brings vitamin C, manganeseironpotassium, and beneficial phytonutrients, including anti-inflammatory rosmarinic and carnosic acidsHoney provides small amounts of minerals and antioxidants with some antiseptic and antibacterial properties.

The filling soluble pectin fiber found predominantly in citrus peels may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and decrease risk of cardiac issues and diabetes. A type of phytochemical also concentrated in citrus peelslimonene is currently being studied for anti-carcinogenic properties, specifically its potential ability to prevent growth and spread of human colon and breast cancer cells.

During the holiday season, with plentiful opportunities for hosting + sharing (and using up leftovers), my festive pickled cranberries are a simple, tasty and unexpected recipe. Make a batch or two to give away or to enjoy in your own home!

Cheers, Heather

Tell me… Do you limit cranberry consumption to only the sauces and chutneys and compotes at holidays?

Pickled Cranberries with Rosemary and Orange
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
Recipe Type: Condiment, pickling, preserving, fruit
Makes: 2 pint jars (or 4 half-pint or 8 quarter-pint jars)
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 pound (about 4 cups) fresh cranberries, rinsed well
  • 2 large fresh rosemary sprigs (enough for a couple 2-inch portions per jar), rinsed well
  • 2 Tbsp fresh orange zest, or 1 Tbsp dried orange peel (see HGN Notes)
  1. Combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from the heat and let cool briefly.
  2. In the meantime, evenly distribute the cranberries among clean jars, leaving roughly 1 inch of headspace. Pour the warm brine mixture evenly into each jar over the cranberries to cover completely, still leaving a bit of space at the top. Add a couple of the rosemary portions and equal portions of the orange zest into each jar as well.
  3. Tightly seal each jar, and flip upside down on the counter top to cool several hours. Once cool, refrigerate sealed for 3 to 5 days before eating to give time for the flavors to meld together. In the refrigerator, opened jars will keep up to 2 weeks; unopened jars will keep up to 3 months.
HGN Notes
When the cranberries are all eaten, save the pickling liquid in the jars! You can use it as a replacement for some or all of the vinegar (and sweetener) in vinaigrettes or sauces for salads or to top meats/seafood, add a splash to soups for brightness, or incorporate it into a holiday cocktail or shrub (garnished with a few of the pickled or fresh cranberries, you have them).

Dried orange peel can be sourced from some specialty markets, as well as spice purveyors like The Spice House: https://buff.ly/2n9xjFE or Penzeys: https://buff.ly/2ncJKAL.

+ Swap the white vinegar in equal parts for apple cider vinegar.
+ Instead of rosemary try fresh thyme or a bay leaf; or omit entirely.
+ Try blueberries or grapes instead of cranberries.
+ Lemon zest would also work if you don't have or don't like orange.
+ Add a few thin slices of fresh peeled ginger root, or fresh green or red chillies to each jar for subtle or mondo heat.
+ Make a wintry-spiced pickle by adding to each pint jar: 1/2 cinnamon stick, 2 whole cloves, 2 whole black peppercorns, 1 whole allspice berry, and a thin slice of fresh ginger. Keep the orange zest, and keep or omit the rosemary (would give a hint of pine).
Nutrition Info
Serving Size: about 1/4 cup cranberries (without brine) Calories: 27 Fat: 0 g Saturated fat: 0 g Unsaturated fat: 0 g Trans fat: 0 g Carbohydrates: 6 g Sugar: 4 g Sodium: 292 mg Fiber: 1 g Protein: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg

Recipe inspired by + adapted from Phickle + Local Haven.

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