Keep a stash of these Cranberry Clementine Conserves handy for a super easy and absolutely delicious appetizer. It’s also fabulous for gift giving!
What’s a “conserve”? I hate to disillusion you regarding my culinary expertise, but honestly, I didn’t know myself until several weeks ago when this recipe for Cranberry Clementine Conserves first started swirling around in my head.
As I began thinking about recipes for the upcoming holidays, I got the idea of making some type of preserves that could be spread on morning toast or on biscuits. At the same time, I wanted one that could be enjoyed as a condiment, with cheese or spooned over grilled or roasted chicken. Somewhere along the way, I became intrigued with the idea of a conserve, although I wasn’t sure exactly what it was. A bit of research (see below) revealed that a conserve was exactly what I had in mind. After numerous attempts and quite a few bags of cranberries, this delicious Cranberry Clementine Conserves recipe evolved. I think you’re going to love it for holiday entertaining and gift-giving!
Jams, jellies, marmalade, preserves, conserves… What’s the difference?
Although they’re similar in that they’re all made from fruit and often served on toast, there are also distinct differences. Here’s the scoop on each one:
- Jam is a mixture of fruit and sugar that’s either boiled till it’s thick and spreadable or thickened with some type of pectin.
- Jelly is a spread, also made from fruit and sugar, but it’s clear and is made from fruit juice rather than whole fruit like jam.
- Marmalade is basically jam that is made from both the peel and the pulp of some type of citrus fruit. It can be thickened by cooking or, as in freezer marmalade, with pectin.
- Preserves are similar to jam, in that they are made from whole fruit. The difference is in the texture and size of the fruit. In preserves, the fruit is left in large pieces so the texture is not smooth like jam or jelly.
- And conserves? Conserves are spreads that include nuts and dried fruits as well as fresh fruit. Often, they will also be made from a mixture of more than one fruit. In some ways, a conserve is similar to a chutney.
I loved the idea of a crimson red jam made with cranberries, dried fruit and nuts. I made a few batches of conserve pairing frozen sweet cherries with the cranberries, but it just wasn’t quite right. When I spotted a big bag of clementines on sale, that’s when things started to come together. Cranberries and oranges are a match made in heaven, and clementines fall into that same delicious category.
In addition to cranberries and clementines, this Cranberry Clementine Conserves recipe includes sugar, golden raisins, fresh ginger, a splash of rice vinegar and a squeeze of Sriracha. Toasted pecans are added after the conserve cools down. The ginger and rice vinegar add a fresh vibrancy and the Sriracha a delicious touch of heat.
Do you love to give gifts from the kitchen? These Cranberry Clementine Conserves are easy and will wow everyone who has the pleasure to be a recipient. Pair them with a nice box of crackers -or make your own! The conserve goes well with just about any kind of cheese, but we love it with Brie, goat cheese or a smoky cheddar. Include a wedge of cheese and/or a nice bottle of wine and you’ve got an amazing gift for that hard-to-buy-for family member or friend.
I love these Weck tulip jars for gift giving, as the recipient can use them over and over. For other nice, but less expensive options, check out these Hexagon jars or these Bormioli Rocco Quattro Stagioni jars. I like to attach a pretty little label for an added touch. I made the one shown below and would be happy to share the template. Just leave a comment below and I’ll send you the pdf. (Don’t worry, your email won’t show up in the comments, it will just be visible to me.)
You definitely want this Cranberry Clementine Conserves in your holiday recipe arsenal. Make a batch and you won’t have to worry about appetizers all season. Just keep some nice crackers and a few wedges of cheese on hand and you’ll be all set! And when they ask what a conserve is, you can act real smart and pretend you’ve been a conserve connoisseur all of your life. I won’t tell!
Café Tips for making this Cranberry Clementine Conserves
- This recipe calls for clementine zest and juice. The easiest (super easy) way to zest any type of citrus fruit is with a microplane zester. A zester like this is worth its weight in gold and is also great for hard cheese, chocolate, nutmeg, garlic, etc. They’re inexpensive and will last a long time. Just a heads up though – they do wear out after lots of use. If your zester seems dull, you probably need to replace it.
- Most cranberry recipes call for “sorting” the berries. This simply means checking them over and removing any soft or damaged berries. It’s almost easier to do this by feel rather than by sight. Just wash the berries well and run your hands through them. You’ll easily feel which ones need to be discarded.
- One other note on “sorting”. Cranberries come with stems removed, but there are always a few that they miss. Cranberry stems look like fine hairs or wires. Be sure to give the berries a once over check to make sure they’re all removed.
- When simmering the cranberry mixture, watch it fairly closely. You want a rapid simmer, but you don’t want the pot to boil over. It makes a huge mess. (Don’t ask me how I know.)
- There’s a tablespoon of Sriracha in this Cranberry Clementine Conserves recipe. Sriracha is a type of hot sauce or chili sauce made from chili peppers, garlic, sugar and salt. You can find it in the Asian section of most larger grocery stores or online. It adds a bit of savory heat to this sweet jam. It’s not over the top spicy, but if you don’t like heat, just start out with a half of tablespoon. You can always add more. If you like things nice and spicy, taste the conserve just before jarring and add more Sriracha, to taste.
- Since you’re using the zest of the clementines, use organic, if possible. Either way, be sure to wash the clementines thoroughly. I actually use a small brush and a bit of dish soap, then rinse them really well. Dry the clementines with a paper towel before zesting.
- In the recipe you’ll note that 1 cup of the cranberries is reserved and added after 8 minutes of cooking. The reason for this is that the reserved berries won’t cook as long and will help the conserve retain that vibrant red color.
Keep a stash of these Cranberry Clementine Conserves handy for a super easy and absolutely delicious appetizer. It's also fabulous for gift giving!
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 6 clementines organic, if possible.
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 1 12- ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
- 2 ¾ cups sugar
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 tablespoon sriracha chili sa
- 4 teaspoons finely zester fresh ginger
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place pecans in a small baking pan. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
- Wash the clementines well. With a zester, zest 3 of the clementines. Set zest aside, covered. Cut clementines in half and, with a hand juicer, squeeze the juice, reserving the pulp.
- Measure clementine juice and pulp. It should be about 3/4 to 1 cup. If it’s a little more or less, it’s fine. Transfer juice/pulp and rice vinegar to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes until juice is reduced to about one half the original volume.
Set aside 1 cup of the cranberries. Add the remaining cranberries, sugar, raisins, and Sriracha to the saucepan with the reduced juice mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a rapid simmer. Cook for 8 minutes then add reserved cup of cranberries and stir well. Continue cooking until cranberries are soft and mixture is beginning to thicken (it will thicken more as it cools), another 7-10 minutes (for a total time of about 15-18 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Add fresh ginger and clementine zest. Stir to combine. Cool completely, then add pecans and stir well. Transfer to glass jars or other storage containers. Cover and store in refrigerator. Allow to sit out for 15-20 minutes to remove chill, before serving.
See serving suggestions in the post, above.
See Café Tips above for more detailed instructions.
This recipe will make 5 cups of conserves.