The cranberry is a fruit that grows on trailing vines like a strawberry, and thrives in wetland areas, called bogs. Cranberries are harvested in September and October. The most common technique for harvesting is known as a “wet” harvest, which involves flooding the bogs with water to float the fruit for easy collection. During the winter the frozen water insulates and protects the vines.
The North American cranberry has a distinguished history. Native Americans used cranberries as food, in ceremonies, and medicinally. Revolutionary War veteran Henry Hall planted the first commercial cranberry beds in Dennis, Massachusetts in 1816. Today they are farmed on approximately 40,000 acres across the northern United States and Canada.
Cranberries are available in a variety of product forms including: fresh, juice, dried and sauce. Cranberries are considered a super food. They contain no cholesterol and virtually no fat and are low in sodium. In addition, they contain significant amounts of antioxidants and other phytonutrients that may help protect against heart disease, cancer, aging and other diseases. Cranberries also contain bacteria-blocking compounds that are helpful in preventing urinary tract infections, and possibly ulcers and gum disease.
Age to introduce: Over 12 months (cooked/juice/sauce) Over 18 months (dried).
Cranberries For The Family
Cranberry up your meals by trying some of these tasty and simple ideas.
- Football snack: Add dried cranberries to any nut mixture.
- Salad: Sprinkle dried cranberries on mixed green or spinach salad. The sweetness of the cranberries is terrific with any vinaigrette dressing and is a great compliment to crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese.
- Side dish: Add dried cranberries to your favorite stuffing, wild rice, or couscous recipe.
- Veggie: Saute onions, diced zucchini and dried cranberries in olive oil. Season with a dash of turmeric, cinnamon, and rep pepper flakes. Great taste and awesome color!
- All American apple pie: Add ½ cup of fresh cranberries to your favorite apple recipe.
- Treat the whole family to fresh cranberry sauce.
At The Market:
Fresh cranberries are at their peak from October through December; which could explain why they became a Thanksgiving dinner staple. Choose bags with firm, brightly colored berries. When buying cranberry juice, choose products with the least amount of added sugar or choose a 100 percent juice blend for a sweet/tart combination without added refined sugar. Sweetened dried cranberries are available in bulk at select grocery stores, or by the bag.
Cranberries will keep in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed bag for up to two months or in the freezer for up to one year.