Expand your Holiday Repertoire with Four Vintage Cranberry Recipes (1919)

While perusing digitized newspapers in the Library of Congress database I came across a full page advertisement for Eatmor Cranberries from October 19, 1919. With the holidays in full swing I thought it worth sharing. Why not throw some vintage recipes into the mix this year?

Cranberries are a Thanksgiving classic for good reason. The fruit is native to North America and was a staple in the Native American diet and lifestyle. Pilgrims were introduced to cranberries, likely at that very first Thanksgiving. Cranberries were harvested commercially for the first time in 1816 and were later sold in cans beginning around 1912. Ocean Spray cooperative began to take over the market in 1930 when they swapped from dry harvesting to wet and the rest is history. Click here to read more about the history of canned cranberry sauce.


cranberries copy
New-York Tribune (New York [N.Y.]), October 19, 1919. Library of Congress.

Cranberry Jelly

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  • 1 1/2 pints water (3 cups)
  • 2 quarts cranberries (4 cups)
  • Sugar

Combine water and cranberries, staying with the ratio of 3 c. water per 4 c. berries. Strain the juice through a jelly bag and measure your juice. Dissolve 1 cup of sugar per 2 cups of juice then boil “briskly” for five minutes. Skim the foam off the top and pour into jars or molds or other prepared containers.

A few notes:

  • If you don’t have a jelly bag you can use a few sheets of cheesecloth, a very fine mesh strainer or even a flour sifter. Jelly bags aren’t that difficult to find, so you might want one to ensure that your juice isn’t too cloudy.
  • If you plan on making a large batch of jelly to store for long periods of time, be sure to follow the food safety directions for sterilizing and processing your jars.

Cranberry Sauce

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  • 4 c. cranberries
  • 2 c. boiling water
  • 2 c. sugar

Boil the sugar and water together for five minutes. Skim, then add berries and cook until they are transparent. Boil for about 5 minutes until the berries are transparent but not so long that they burst. You can serve the sauce as is or do the strained version.

Cranberry Butter

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  • 6 c. cranberries
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2 c. sugar or white syrup (probably corn syrup)

Cook the cranberries in the water over medium heat until the skins are broken, about 10-15 minutes. Push through a sieve (puree the old school way) or modernize this step with a food processor. Add sugar to the mixture and bring to a boil.  Simmer until thick, which could be 30 minutes as stated in the recipe or even less. Cool, then fill jars and cover.

Note: Modern fruit “butter” recipes usually suggest chilling overnight before storing.

Cranberry Pie

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  • Pastry for pie shell and lid
  • 2 c. cranberries
  • 1 T. flour
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 T. water
  • 2 T. butter

Halve the cranberries and mix with sugar, water and flour. Fill pastry shell with the mixture. Cut the butter into small pieces and place throughout the filling of the pie. Put strips of pastry over the top. Bake in a moderate oven (350-375) for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

I baked mine at 375 and it took between 30 and 35 minutes to get the golden crust that I was looking for. This pie is as tart as you would expect but surprisingly flavorful; The sugar balances out the cranberries very nicely. I was unsure if the filling had set at first, but after chilling for a few hours it seemed to hold its shape the way it was supposed to.


I have not yet made all of these recipes but I will be attempting them throughout the holidays. Check back for pictures and updates!



*Featured Photo by Andrew Yee via Flickr. 

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