This homemade cranberry juice is super easy to make, the perfect combination of sweet and tart, and oh so refreshing. You won't believe how much better it is than the store bought variety, plus you can adjust the sweetness however you like. Plus, there are 4 ways to make it!
Every Christmas season, I stock up on cranberries. I'll wait until just after the Holiday season is over, and then visit my local grocery store(s) to snag some discounts. I just love cranberry sauce, so this way, I can enjoy it year round, whenever the craving hits.
However, just recently, I found another fantastic use for these holiday favorites--Homemade Cranberry Juice!
How this happened is that I was working on a recipe for Cranberry Spritzer / Cranberry Mimosa / Mocktail, but ran into a bump in the road....
And the bump was a BIG bump. A bump made of sugar.
How Much Sugar Is in Cranberry Juice?
I started out thinking that I'd take the easy road and make the Cranberry Spritzer out of unsweetened cranberry juice, so I started calling around to stores to find some.
Well, good luck with that.
I soon found out that it's almost impossible to find such a thing.
I also found out that there is simply WAAAAY too much sugar in Cranberry Juice and Cranberry Cocktails.
Seriously--the lowest content of the natural variety that I found was a whopping 27 grams in a glass! Plus, the juice wasn't organic and if you are familiar with pesticide contents of produce, berries are typically pretty high and the juice was sweetened with apples and other berries, all of which are sprayed with quite a few toxins that I would rather not be eating.
So it dawned on me--why not try to make my own Homemade Cranberry Cocktail?
And the answer is, you sure can! And there are actually 4 ways to do it!
Why Make Your Own Homemade Cranberry Juice?
There are several reasons to make your own cranberry juice. Here are some of them.
Less Sugar & Fewer Carbs
More and more I'm convinced that sugar is something to avoid as much as possible. Cranberries are not very sweet, so to make the juice taste good, manufacturers add a ton of sweetener.
They do the same when making cranberry sauce. That's why, similar to how I made this juice without sugar, I also made this Sugar-free Cranberry Sauce without--you guessed it--sugar!
When you make your own Homemade Cranberry Juice, you can use whatever sweetener you like (or even NO sweetener if you really like to pucker!!) and even make it low-carb!
The cost of the Homemade Cranberry Juice of course will vary based on the method chosen, but we had a great time making the "blender version" numerous times. I would say that we probably got a good value out of the 2 cups of organic cranberries that we used! For sure, taking into account that they were organic, I would say that we got a good value.
Finding organic cranberry juice is pretty tough. But if you make your own Homemade Cranberry Juice Cocktail, you can use organic cranberries, which are more readily available.Of course no food is perfect, but by using organic cranberries, you will most likely be intaking fewer pesticides than if you use conventional (source).
Even if cranberries aren't a food that has loads of pesticides on them (for example, strawberries are MUCH worse in terms of pesticide content), it's can still be a good idea to avoid pesticides whenever possible. Plus when I tried to avoid sugar by purchasing a "fruit-sweetened" cranberry juice, the other fruits that were used to sweeten the drink were apples and other berries, which are all fruits known to have quite a few pesticides on them--and they were not organic.
Some sources have determined that the amount of pesticides in foods should not cause harm (source), while others cite concerns about ongoing exposure (source). We choose to be as careful about this as we can.
Is Cranberry Juice Keto Friendly?
As I mentioned, most cranberry juice that you find in the stores is uber high in sugar. Like you might be better off eating a Snickers Bar.
But, since cranberries are naturally low in carbs, this Homemade Sugar-free Cranberry Juice is keto-friendly, and it's paleo-friendly too.
You don't want to go downing a bunch of this juice if you're on the keto diet, but you can use this cranberry juice in your recipes in moderation without worrying about the extra carbs. You can of course think out the cranberry juice for a lower carb content as well.
The Best Way to Make This Juice
Of course, using the powdered juice is the easiest. I've been using a lot of powdered juices and it's a GREAT way to get the benefits of fresh produce into your body. Of course, you want to buy quality powders that are processed quickly after the fruits are harvested.
Otherwise, I really like making the juice in my Vitamix - It comes together so fast and no need for the store or cleaning up another thing (either the pan or the slow cooker.) Note that if you use my affiliate link, you can get free shipping. LOVE my Vitamix for so many things like Homemade Coconut Milk, Almond Butter, Coconut Butter, Powdered Sweetener....and I'm just getting started!
Equipment You Will Need
Depending on the method you use, you will need some, or all, of the following:
- fine metal strainer
- small spatula
- blender (like the Vitamix)
- saucepan (this is the exact size pan that I use ALL the time)
- slow cooker
What About Lead in Slow Cookers?
This truly might be a concern. Apparently, no slow cookers have tested definitely for being lead free and since cranberries are acidic, any lead present might leach into your juice. Using this method is up to your discretion, of course.
What Can You Do with Leftover Cranberry Mash?
Of course you can toss the cranberry mash, but I'm not one to waste good food. We used it over and over to make more and more (yes it was thinner, but it was still juice!) juice, and you could of course dry it in a food dehydrator and make leather.
I would personally combine it with another fruit mash or at least add a low-carb sweetener to it since cranberries aren't naturally sweet, otherwise you'll be puckering while eating the very sour leather!
Special Diet Notes
AIP: This recipe is not AIP
Paleo: For Paleo, use coconut sugar, stevia, honey, or maple syrup
Keto / Low-carb: Use the low-carb sweetener in the post or stevia extract, or any combination.
Vegan: This recipe is naturally vegan
Gluten-free: This recipe is naturally gluten-free
Sugar-free: Unless you choose to add a higher glycemic sweetener, this recipe can be considered sugar-free. It has some natural sugars in it, but it's very minimal.
Sweetener Options: We tried this recipe using several different sweeteners. The one linked to in the recipe works great--you do need to stir quite a bit to get it to dissolve (or you can blend it in) but it's lovely. Stevia extract dissolves in very nicely, but it can have an aftertaste for many.
Homemade Cranberry Juice
- Place water and cranberries in a saucepan. Bring water and cranberries to a boil. Reduce the heat--cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes or until the berries begin to pop.
- Let cool a bit. Strain the berries through a fine strainer, pressing the mixture with a spoon. Save cranberry mash for later use. See notes for ways to use this.
- Return cranberry juice to the pan. Stir in the sweetener, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir until sweetener is dissolved.
- Remove from the heat. Cool and transfer to a pitcher. Refrigerate until chilled, or pour over ice and serve immediately.
Slow Cooker Method
- Wash cranberries. Put cranberries and lemon juice in the slow cooker.
- Add water to the slow cooker--just enough to barely cover the berries.
- Add sweetener of choice.
- Cook on high for 4-5 hours.
- If desired, mash the cranberries to extract more juice and cook an additional 30 minutes.
- Strain the liquid from the berries.
- Allow the juice to cool. Refrigerate until cold and serve, or serve over ice immediately.
- Place cranberries and water into blender.
- Blend on high until well blended and the resulting mixture is completely smooth.
- Strain out the juice using a fine mesh strainer, pressing the contents against the edge of the strainer with a spoon or spatula.
- Return the juice to the blender. Add the sweeteners and lemon juice and blend again.
- Refrigerate until cold or serve over ice immediately.
Reconstituted Powder Method
- Mix 2 Tbsp of powdered cranberry juice in a cup of water.
- Stir well to combine. A frother can be used for easier blending, or you could put the water and powdered juice in a blender and blend 'til combined. One other option is to heat the water first, then add the powder, and stir until combined.
I hope you enjoy this homemade cranberry juice, however you make it!
Did you have any idea that you could make your own cranberry juice?