Mandarin & Cranberry Relish

Friday afternoon, a heavy box brimming with satsuma mandarins courtesy of Chaffin Family Orchards greeted me at the post office.     I’d anticipated their arrival all week – eager for something fresh and vibrant after a month when no other fresh fruit was available from our CSA but for apples.   These beautiful mandarins – like a palm full of sunshine – enlivened our kitchen, offering that slightly intense, perfect coupling of sweet and sour.   The moment I pierced the skin of the first mandarin pulled from the box, I brought it to my nose to inhale its aroma – a vibrant combination of piercing citrus and subtle floral notes.   Fresh.   Decidedly fresh.

There’s beauty in the seasonality of any food, but citrus fruit is remarkably well-suited to its season.   Indeed, it’s one of nature’s best gifts that these bright fruits come into season just when the days become dark and we miss the sun the most. For this reason, mandarins make for a charming gift during the holiday season – a way to offer a little sunshine to someone during the deep dark days of winter.

Of course, 15 lbs of mandarins seemed daunting at first.   How would I make use of this bounty without letting any of the orchard’s work go to waste?   While they make a perfect snack, peeled and eaten fresh, I wanted more.   Shall I make citrus mead? Mandarins poached in a star anise syrup? Candied mandarin peel? Mandarin rooibos tea?   Mandarin pudding?   With the upcoming holiday, I settled on my first dish: a mandarin cranberry relish.

Both mandarins and cranberries are a potent source of vitamin C – although each offer a different combination of nutrients in addition to that vitamin C.   Mandarins provide folate and fresh cranberries offer vitamins E and K in addition to manganese.


mandarin cranberry relish

By Jenny Published: November 23, 2009

  • Yield: 1 quart
  • Prep: 10 mins

This recipe makes approximately 1 quart of relish. The cranberries and mandarins remain raw in this dish, and the mandarins are used whole. The dish is fresh, lively and raw – with faint bitter undertones courtesy of the mandarin’s peel. The peel, incidentally, is where much of the fruit’s ascorbic acid content is concentrated.


  • 6 cups Fresh, Organic Cranberries
  • 4 Organic Satsuma Mandarins
  • 1/2 cup Fresh, Organic Apple Juice
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 cup Whole, Unrefined Cane Sugar or to taste


  1. Rinse and pick over the cranberries, discarding any bruised or mushy fruit.
  2. Chop the mandarins coarsely – including the rind.
  3. Combine all ingredients in your food processor and process until it forms the desired texture which should be slightly coarse.
  4. Chill and serve.

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What people are saying

  1. Mary P. says

    I love this uncooked cranberry relish, it is so good. I make it too, but my recipe doesn’t include apple juice. I will try it with this time, thanks!!

  2. Jess says

    A yummy recipe! I made it with clementines and it was fabulous on top of waffles the next morning, too. Thanks for an awesome blog :-)

  3. Patricia Lyon says

    I wonder, can you put jars of cranberry/mandrain in boiling water bath to seal lids in order to keep them for awhile?

  4. says

    My mom makes this every Thanksgiving, and now that I have my own family, I do too. I’m so excited to see it here! We’ve never used mandarins. We usually only have navels or valencias. My mom’s recipe is just: one whole orange, one bag of cranberries, and enough sugar to make it taste good. I’ll try adding the apple juice this year.

  5. Brandis says

    My grandma makes a similar relish, with a few differences- first it has a staggering amount of sugar in it (white sugar, of course). And she adds apple to it. I may marry the two (your less and better sugar, her apple) and see what I get.

    • Jane says

      Great sounding raw recipe!
      Yes, I too wondered if you could make it as a fermented product!
      Also, in its current form, I guess the shelf/refrigerated life is only a couple of days?

  6. Julie says

    This cranberry relish is AMAZING! Thank you for sharing it.

    I read this recipe the other day and had never heard of Satsuma Mandarins. I then went to Whole Foods a couple of days after reading the recipe, and wouldn’t you know that WF had the Satsuma Mandarins. God has an amazing way of bringing new foods into my life. I will read a recipe with a new food I have never heard of, and then go to Whole Foods, and that food will be in the store. This happens to me on a regular basis. Pretty cool.

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