How To Make Pure, Unsweetened, Sugar-Free Cranberry Juice Without Cooking
Commercial cranberry juices are very often loaded with various types of sugar, making cranberry juice more palatable but also increasing so-called empty calories, glycemic index, and especially the glycemic load of such drinks.
If You don't have home-grown cranberries, fresh-frozen cranberries can also be used to make all-natural, sugar-free cranberry juice that has a rather specific taste and aroma - it takes some time to get used to such fragrance, but it is worth it.
Published: September 17, 2022.
Even when fully ripe, cranberries have a rather tart and specific aroma, and although they can be eaten raw, they are mostly processed into juices, jams, sauces, and similar.
However, cranberry juice is also one of the healthiest and most refreshing drinks around, with or without added other berries.
Cranberries offer many health benefits, they feature a low Glycemic Index (GI) of 45, contain ~12.2g of carbs per 100g of fruits, and as such, have a very low Glycemic Load (GL) for smaller servings, for example, they have GL of only 3 for 50g of cranberries.
And I dare You to eat 50g of cranberries or to drink equivalent juice (no sugar, of course) unless You are used to them :)
How To Extract Juice From Cranberries
When compared with other berries, raw cranberries are very dry and hard fruits, with not much juice.
So, it is essential to extract as much juice as possible.
Cold-Press Juicer Method
Basically, if You have a very strong cold-press juicer, You may add as many cranberries to it as You please and extract the precious juice.
The remaining cranberry solids may be used to make jams, sauces, pies, cakes, and similar foods - just don't forget that cranberries are mixed with other foods well but in moderation due to their specific taste.
Cranberry juice from cold-press juicers can be stored in the fridge for days to come - cold-press juicers don't mix the air into the juice, and the juice lasts longer.
However, drinking pure, 100% cranberry juice without sugar or any similar sweetener, or without diluting it with water, can be an almost painful experience :)
So, if You are not used to pure, all-natural cranberry juice, dilute it with water:
- take a tall glass and fill it with water up to 2/3 of the glass,
- add a tablespoon of pure cranberry juice, mix everything and try it,
- if the taste is "too weak", add one more tablespoon of cranberry juice, mix everything and try it,
- continue adding cranberry juice until You find the amount that best suits your taste buds.
Note: People usually mix water and pure cranberry juice between 2:1 and 5:1 ratio, sometimes even less, sometimes even more - it all depends on the cranberries and individual preferences.
To improve the taste even more, it is possible to add a few drops of lemon or lime, a few whole blueberries, raspberries, and similar. Also, if You need to sweeten your cranberry juice, consider stevia or similar natural sweeteners.
Note: Honey can be used to sweeten cranberry juice, but it contains sugars - honey has its health benefits, but if You want to keep the low Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of cranberry juice, You can't add honey to the juice...
Serve the juice with a few ice cubes, some lime, and/or a few more berries, especially if they are from your own garden.
If You don't have a very strong cold-press juicer, You may use a blender to make cranberry juice, but the method differs a little bit.
Note: if the cold-press juicer is "weak", the juice yield is very low.
So, take your blender, add 2 cups of water and 3-4 cups of cranberries and blend for 2-3 minutes on low to medium speed, or until the liquid in the blender is smooth and thick, without larger chunks.
Now, put the closed container in the fridge overnight to steep.
In the morning, strain the juice through a very fine mesh strainer (use some force to remove all the juice) into a suitable bottle - remaining solids can be used to make jams, pies, and other foods, but if You have time, put remaining solids in any cold-press juicer in order to remove as much juice as possible.
Of course, this final step is not required, but ...
Depending on how fine was your mesh strainer, cranberry juice will be more or less clear - personally, I like when there are some pulp and other solids in the juice. It may be sour and tart, but ...
And that's it - You have made your homemade all-natural, unsweetened cranberry juice that is already a little bit watered down.
To help with the fragrance and taste, feel free to add some lemon water, lime juice, a few raspberries, and similar.
When serving, be sure to mix the juice with water since it is still too strong for most people - add more cold water and a few ice cubes, and You will get an excellent, very refreshing drink.
If the juice has too much pulp and other solids, use a finer mesh strainer next time; just note that those solids contain many beneficial compounds, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.