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.


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Steam juicing Bing sweet cherries

Here is a new video from our Canning with Mehu-Liisa how-to video series. Our cherry season was short and not too plentiful this year. I decided to steam juice some of the sweet cherries (Bing) that we u-picked and process the left-over pulp in various ways. Sweet cherries do not release a lot of juice (freezing them beforehand increases yield, no need to thaw), and the cherries are still pretty firm after juicing so they are great for making cherry pickles, preserves, etc.

Here is the video (recipes to follow in more posts):

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I thought I would repost a few older posts about Mehu-Liisa and rhubarb. Enjoy!

Take care,


Rhubarb simple syrup:

Juicing rhubarb basics:

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Juicing vegetables with the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer.

Here is a post from my Forum about juicing vegetables:


Originally Posted by Jamie
I just got my Mehu-Liisa for Christmas and I want to make Kale, or actually any green juices, I don’t like to use a lot of sugar so I tend to stay away from the fruit juices. How would I go about juicing vegetables instead of fruit.

My reply:
Jamie –

Many Mehu-Maija users process vegetables. The most common way is to make “V8” style juices. These are usually tomato based and can contain carrots, onions, celery, beets, herbs, garlic. The variations are endless. If to be stored for any length of time past a week or so, these juices MUST BE PRESSURE CANNED as they contain low-acid vegetables. Another way to process vegetables is to make broth. By combining celery, onion, herbs, carrots, etc. with meat (chicken, beef, lamb or fish) one can make concentrated wonderfully flavorful broths. These can be used for cooking or as healthful hot beverages. Again, these products MUST BE PRESSURE CANNED as they contain low-acid vegetables and meat.

Cole crops; kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, etc., make strongly flavored juices that tend to dominate broth flavor profiles. However, by experimenting with other highly flavored vegetables and herbs a palatable concentrated broth can be created and then mixed with other juices to taste.

I can’t stress enough, THESE JUICES AND BROTHS MUST BE PRESSURE CANNED as they contain low-acid vegetables and meats. Follow these links to instructions for pressure canning:

Pressure canners
Vegetable canning
Meat canning
Fish and seafood canning

Let me know how things go and if you have any more questions.

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How to de-seed a pomegranate in 10 seconds!

This is a fantastic video tip on how to de-seed pomegranates in no time at all. This will drastically reduce the time needed to get those luscious pips into your steamer basket. Hooray for the internet!

Have fun steam juicing your pomegranates.

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So, I’ve been doing some research on steam-juicing pomegranates and have found these resources on the Internet:
– this is excellent! This person did two test batches, one with skin and one without. Great post.
– Pomegranate – Jalapeno jam!!
– great technique and visuals on how to strip the berries

If you are wondering about juicing pomegranates I hope this helps. I plan on doing a test run of pomegranates soon so look for a post.

Take Care


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Concord and Niagara grapes

I went on a glean with the Eugene Area Gleaners recently and came home with about 60 lbs of Concord and Niagara grapes. Grapes are always a pleasure to process as they release so much wonderful concentrated juice. Out of the 60 lbs. I ended up with 10.5 gals. of juice. I’ve had even higher yields with very ripe grapes. I usually mix grape juice 50-50 with seltzer water or mineral water.

I gave the grapes a quick rinse (these are organic by default) and loaded up the fruit baskets while the water pan came up to a boil.

Here is my two pot set up (you can see the juice coming up into the hoses). They look like they are tipping out but they are not. The setup is level, the illusion is from the camera lens. I am using a propane camp stove so I give special attention to the burner settings. Propane burns quite hot and I don’t want to boil my pans dry. All that is needed is a steady boil. As always, I set my timers (on front of stove frame) and check the water every 15-30 mins. I can usually get through a complete processing (45 mins.) without needing to refill the pans.

I’m about half way through processing here. The first runs were a 60-40 mix of Niagara to Concord. This ratio yields a more mellow juice then 100% Concord and a juice with more character then 100% Niagara.


The next run was with frozen strawberries added. I freeze a lot of small berries in season to use throughout the following year. This Niagara/Strawberry blend is luscious. I used 2 quarts of frozen berries per basket and placed them on top of the grapes. The left hand picture shows grapes on top of the strawberries because I decided to add more at the last minute. The right hand picture shows how much the fruit collapses after 30 – 40 mins. There is really no reason to steam past this stage.


Per basket (processing run)-

1 – Rinse grapes and remove any debris. It is not necessary to stem the grapes. Do not let them sit in the water too long.

2 – Add about 12 lbs. of grapes to the fruit basket (mound the grapes up above the top of the basket, the lid will cover them fine).

CAUTION: Do not push down on the grapes to pack them into the basket. You will run the risk of collapsing the convex bottom of the basket, causing the juice to run into the steam funnel.

3 – Add sweetener to taste. I rarely use sweetener for grapes, especially Niagara. However, if the fruit is not fully ripe, 1-2 cups per basket to taste is a good rule.

4 – Fit the basket and lid onto the juicer body. Bring water to a steady boil.

5 – Set timer to 30 mins. as soon as water comes to a boil.

CAUTION: You must monitor the stove heat and water pan to avoid boiling the pan dry. Using a standard household stove top with water at a steady boil (not furious) you should be fine for up to 45 mins. But, set the timer at 30 mins. just to be safe.

6 – When timer goes off after 30 mins.

A – check the juice level. (With grapes it is best to drain off a quart of juice so that juice doesn’t leak into the water pan through the steam funnel)

B – check the water level. It should be no lower than half way down the side of the water pan. Add water as necessary

C – set timer for 15 mins more

7 – When timer goes off after 15 mins.

A – Turn burner off

B – Draw off juice into sanitized jars, attach lids and bands.

C – Water bath your jars as soon as you get 5-7 quarts (avg. water bath capacity).

ATTENTION: USDA recommends processing juice in a hot water bath for 15 mins. per quart. Consult your local Extension Service for more information.

With frozen berries-

1 – When you fill the fruit basket, top off with 2 quarts (more or less to taste) of frozen berries such as strawberry, raspberry, blueberries, cherries, etc.

2 – Add sugar to taste

3 – Process as above

Please let me know how your juicing adventures go and if you have any questions.

Take Care,


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