High Bush Cranberries

High bush cranberries are harder to make use of than their low bush cousins. They have a pit inside of them that makes them less appealing to throw in a batch of muffins or over the morning granola and are, at least to my tastebuds, tarter. Despite these limitations they are all over our neighborhood. Most people won’t reveal their super secret berry picking spots, but for high bush cranberries you can walk along many power-line cuts in Fairbanks for easy access to prime berry picking. In just under 30 minutes we had 5 cups of high bush cranberries.


Processing cranberries can be time consuming. I found our kitchen towels work better than the typical bathroom terry towels. Gently rolling the berries across the towel will wipe off most of the debris and many of the little stems sticking to them.  You can then give them a quick rinse and lay them on a baking tray to dry. Once dry you can pop the tray in the freezer overnight. In the morning the individually frozen berries will be able to be poured into a freezer bag. For 5 cups it took two trays to get them all frozen. Once frozen they can be kept for up to two years according to the Cooperative Extension Cranberry fact sheet. I usually keep them frozen until I have more time to process them into something more edible.

This year I want to try Highbush Cranberry Ketchup. It’s a 4-hour process so I think I’ll wait until winter instead of wasting beautiful summer sunshine. This recipe is a tweak of the Cooperative Extension recipe and looks pretty doable.

Alaska Beachcomber Highbush Cranberry Ketchup

  • 1 gallon Ziploc bag of highbush cranberries (makes 4 ½ to 5 cups of pulpy juice)
  • 3 tsp. Pomona’s pectin (we tried several brands, and this one gave consistently good results)
  • 4 tsp. Pomona’s calcium water (the powder to mix comes in the package with the pectin)
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1.5 teaspoons celery salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¾ to one cup white vinegar (adjust to your taste)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 ½ cups water

Full instructions on the Alaska Floats My Boat blog.


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