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Active Time
45 minutes to 1 hour
Total Project Time
Up to 1 day
Key Concepts
Polymer, pectin
Cranberry jelly and raw cranberries


Does your family have jellied cranberry sauce with Thanksgiving dinner? Jellied cranberries are thick and retain the shape of the mold in which they are placed, which might mean a turkey-shaped mold or even the shape of the can if you use a canned version. Taking a bite of jiggly jellied cranberries can be a fun addition to a delicious meal, but cranberries can also be served as a liquid-like sauce. Both versions use the same ingredients, so what makes one turn into a gelatin while the other stays more fluid? To find out, try out this holiday-flavored science activity!


Teisha Rowland, PhD, Science Buddies
Sabine De Brabandere, PhD, Science Buddies
This activity is not appropriate for use as a science fair project. Good science fair projects have a stronger focus on controlling variables, taking accurate measurements, and analyzing data. To find a science fair project that is just right for you, browse our library of over 1,200 Science Fair Project Ideas or use the Topic Selection Wizard to get a personalized project recommendation.


  • Two 12-ounce bags of fresh or frozen whole cranberries
  • Colander
  • Two cups of granulated white sugar
  • Water
  • Measuring cup
  • Pot, at least four-quart capacity
  • Heat-resistant, long-handled spoon for mixing on the stove
  • Stove
  • Candy thermometer or digital thermometer that can withstand temperatures of at least 310° F or 154° C (It is recommended to use one that comes with a clip to attach it to the side of the pot.)
  • Watch or timer
  • Ladle
  • Four ramekins or other small, heat-resistant containers, such as mugs or a muffin tin (They should each hold at least three quarters of a cup, and be the same size and shape.)
  • Butter knife and plates (optional)



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Active Time
45 minutes to 1 hour
Total Project Time
Up to 1 day
Key Concepts
Polymer, pectin
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