I have a raw fruit relish that I'd like to like to thicken into more of a jam consistency. I'm thinking about heating in a saucepan with some cornstarch or syrup, but I don't have any idea how much cornstarch to use, and I don't want to mess this up. What approach should I take to thicken this relish?

Here is the recipe for the relish:

  • 2 pounds fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier liqueur
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, pulse several times to breakdown the cranberries and incorporate the ingredients; it should still be a bit chunky. Allow the cranberry relish to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, so the flavors can marry.

From Fresh Cranberry Relish by Tyler Florence and JoAnn Cianciulli.

3 Answers 3


Cranberries have a ton of pectin- which is one reason why cranberry jelly is so prevalent.

Just simmer the cranberries, sugar, and orange juice together for a while and they will eventually gel. I don't know how the liqueur will behave but if it was supposed to be served raw then you probably would want to add it after boiling so the alcohol wouldn't boil off.

Of course- you won't be able to call this a "raw fruit relish" anymore- it would become a pretty standard cranberry sauce recipe.

If you want to keep the berries raw then I would recommend combining the sugar and orange juice with some other thickener such as corn starch or gelatin.


If I need one, I usually use guar gum as thickening agent in raw dishes. The result is similar to using corn starch, it is more or less without flavour, but does not need heat to activate. I would probably dissolve some in the orange juice and then mix with the other ingredients.


I would recommend a flax or chia egg; it is a common substitute for egg in many recipes as it is a gelling agent that requires no cooking. If you go this route you will preserve the "raw" designation, and not have to worry about cooking off the taste or activating the thickening/gelling agent. It will not have the surface tension of arrow root or corn starch or some other boiled ingredient, but for raw it should improve the consistency.

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