Recipe: Sugar-free persimmon cranberry relish

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Make the most intensely flavorful no-sugar cranberry relish ever with this unique recipe! 

Repeat after me: The Tyrant is always right. That’s true even when She’s wrong, but it’s especially true when She’s right after I’ve dared question Her authority. 

For context, here’s how this persimmon cranberry relish recipe started… Thanksgiving is coming up and there’s a long family history of making a raw cranberry relish with fresh citrus, apples, and honey. Basically, throw all ingredients in the blender and voila.

However, baby Sebastian can’t eat raw honey due to the botulism risk so a new cranberry relish recipe was needed.

At the moment, we have loads of Japanese persimmons in our yarden, so The Tyrant announced that we’d be making a cooked cranberry-persimmon relish this year. “I don’t think those two ingredients will go well together,” I responded.

Japanese persimmons on a near-leafless tree in late November.

Japanese persimmons on a near-leafless tree in late November.

After a bit of back-and-forth, it was clear she was not going to be dissuaded: we were making cranberry-persimmon relish and I was going to be thankful for it. (And if I behaved, I might even be allowed to eat some.)   

Usually, we put blood oranges in our cranberry relish, but an aggressive late winter pruning left our potted blood orange tree fruitless this year. However, we have piles of kumquats on our tree so I suggested we use those instead. (This was my singular contribution to the recipe.) 

I gathered the ingredients and presented them to The Tyrant. Then I went about my nightly duck and yard duties while she whipped up the cranberry relish recipe idea that had been ruminating in her head. 

When I came back inside the whole house smelled delicious. Notes of spiced wine and cranberries filled the air. Ah, the holidays…

It was then that I knew I’d been wrong to question Her. And She drove that point further home by offering me a spoonful of her persimmon cranberry relish and watching my face as I acknowledged the goodness of Her creation and power.  

Never question The Tyrant. 

Now we have a new cranberry relish recipe for future years. This recipe is “sugar-free,” meaning that there is no refined cane or beet sugar added. Instead, the sweetness comes from a combination of Japanese persimmons and a bit of maple syrup. Yes, those ingredients technically contain sugar too, albeit in a different form. 

The Tyrant's sugar-free persimmon cranberry relish with citrus and maple syrup.

The Tyrant’s sugar-free persimmon cranberry relish with citrus and maple syrup.

Persimmon cranberry relish tips

A few tips to help you nail this recipe:

1. Use crunchy Japanese persimmons if possible

The texture of Japanese persimmons varies depending on how cold it is outside and how old the fruit is. Eventually, they get squishy – and even more rich and delicious in flavor. 

However, for this recipe we’d advise using still-crunchy Japanese persimmons. Even though the persimmons on our  ‘Ichi Ki Kei Jiro’ tree have experienced several nights of frosts and freezes, the majority of them remain nice and crunchy like apples.

They still have a very sweet flavor, just not quite as rich and nuanced as when they get squishy soft. But perfect for chopping into small pieces for this chunky cranberry relish recipe. 

If all you have is squishy Japanese persimmons, no problem. Use them. The relish will just be less chunky. 

2. Do you have to use kumquats? 

In case you’ve never heard of them, kumquats are a small-fruited citrus variety you eat whole, skin and all. Kumquats have a tart interior and sweet skin, a perfect combo.


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We’re citrus fanatics, so we happen to grow them which makes them easy to come by during the cold months. (Shopping for kumquats = taking 20 steps out the front door to our potted citrus garden.) 

If you don’t have access to kumquats, substitute a really flavorful orange variety of your choice. Add the zest and juice and leave out the pith. 

If you do have kumquats, quarter and de-seed them before adding them to the relish.

3. Chunky or smooth? 

This is a chunky cranberry relish recipe but you can make it smooth if you’d prefer. Once the relish is done cooking, pick out the cloves and allspice berries and then blend until smooth.    

In fact, that’s what we did with a small amount of this relish so it wouldn’t be a choking hazard for Baby Sebastian. (For the record: he made a strange face on his first bite, then gobbled down the rest.)   

Recipe: Sugar-free persimmon cranberry relish

A recipe for sugar-free persimmon cranberry relish.

sugar-free persimmon cranberry relish recipe

Sugar-free persimmon cranberry relish

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cranberry relish, persimmon cranberry relish, sugar-free cranberry relish
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8

A delicious, chunky sugar-free cranberry relish featuring persimmons, fresh citrus (preferably kumquats), maple syrup, red wine, and spices. The perfect holiday dish!


  • 4 cups fresh organic cranberries
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 Japanese persimmons, diced into 1/4" pieces (measured 4 cups after cutting)
  • 1 cup kumquats, quartered and de-seeded
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup *you can add more to taste at the end if the recipe isn't sweet enough for you (we tend to like things less sweet than most people)
  • 10 allspice berries
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 tbsp water (to prevent scalding when you start cooking)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated ginger


  1. Add all ingredients (except maple syrup) to sauce pan over medium low heat. Stir every few minutes to ensure even heating. Water will start to come out of the fruit as it cooks, creating a sauce. Add maple syrup and continue cooking until all ingredients are soft and cranberries have popped.

  2. For a chunky relish, serve as-is. For a smooth relish, remove clove and allspice berries, blend, then serve.

We hope this sugar-free persimmon cranberry relish is a hit at your dinner table! Please remember to repeat the words “The Tyrant is always right” as you gobble it down. 



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  • Reply
    November 19, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    The best and only relish I will ever make again in my life. Last year, my 11 month old and I polished off an entire recipe in 2 days flat. This persimmon season, I will be making double batches because it is THAT good (and our son is bigger. And I am totally real with myself and how my I will personally consume). I hesitate to even call this a relish because I end up eating it straight from a bowl with a very large spoon. We substituted naval oranges (our grocery stores have a very boring selection of citrus) and it was delicious, although I would be ecstatic to try this with kumquats should I ever come across them.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      November 20, 2021 at 10:01 pm

      Wow, thanks MJ! That’s quite a compliment. Also, glad to hear this cranberry relish recipe turned out so well with naval oranges. Our toddler also wolfs this one down. Maybe one day they can share a bowl together. 🙂

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