# Is there a formula for adjusting water when scaling a recipe?

I do the cooking for a large event once a year and this year we're unable to purchase cranberry sauce in large quantities, but cranberries are freely available. I always make cranberry sauce (whole berry and jellied) for my own Thanksgiving dinners, but have never made it at this scale.

Increasing the cooking isn't really an option as extended cooking times damage the natural pectin in the cranberries, so as less water will be boiled off and therefore I'll need to adjust the amount I add. Given the expense, I'd really like to have a good handle on the scaled recipe without experimentation.

I found this question, which talks about a reduction. Along with another that talks specifically about water in soup, but it lacks a formal definition of how to derive an answer.

I expect it to be some function of the surface area, but can't find anything specific on the subject. Worst case scenario, it won't work and I can always make my normal sized batch 15 times.

Of course, if anyone just happens to have a recipe for 5 or 10 lbs of cranberries, I'd appreciate that too.

• No generic formula exists or can exist. Even if you just look at jams (given that cranberry sauce is a kind of jam), it varies according to the cooking time, how much sugar, and how much water is coming from the fruit as opposed to added water. So you'd be better off asking about specifically scaling your cranberry recipe. Nov 9, 2022 at 23:52
• @FuzzyChef, Can you enlighten me, it seems to me it should be possible, so I assume I'm missing something. Jam setting is a function of ratios between sugar, pectin (natural or added), fruit and water remaining at the end of the cooking time. All chemical reactions should occur at the same rate at a given temp regardless of volume, so the only factor remaining is the quantity of water. So if we can determine how much water remains at the end of the first recipe, all we should need to do is multiply that amount, plus whatever will boil off in a larger vessel used for the scaled recipe. Nov 10, 2022 at 3:55
• But you're asking for generic rules on "if I quadruple the quantity, how do I adjust the water". There's no way to make a generic rule for that; it would be a multi-dimensional matrix. Nov 10, 2022 at 17:33
• @FuzzyChef, I didn't expect it to be unidimensional, or even simple formula, I figured it would at the very least be a function of the volume and surface area, and probably have at least one or two other variables to consider. Most likely requiring me to dust off the corner of my brain where all the calculus is stored. Nov 11, 2022 at 6:03