The Consummate Cranberry: A Gem for Good Health

You know autumn’s arrived when fresh cranberries start to make an appearance in the markets.

A bright and festive addition to holiday dinners and entertaining, cranberries are loaded with nutrients and have chart-topping antioxidant properties, elevating them to the status of superfood – another beautiful gift from Mother Nature for our health and well-being.

The Consummate Cranberry: A Gem for Good Health | Foodal.com

Native to the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, cranberries ripen and turn their striking, deep red color from September to November – making them a natural at Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.

But with their outstanding nutritional benefits, they deserve a lot more attention than a one-season appearance.

So let’s dig into what this beautiful berry offers us – its nutritional value, as well as how to select, store and serve the berries, and finally we’ll wrap up with a few recipes to get you started on the cranberry path today.

Cranberry Background

In North America, cranberries were used by the Native Americans long before the European settlers arrived. They used them for eating and cooking, as a tea, a textile dye, and medicinally for a variety of ailments.

As a food, cranberries were eaten raw and sweetened with maple syrup, added to stews, or dried and formed into cakes for later use. The leaves were brewed into a tea.

Cranberry Bush | Foodal.com

Cranberries, as well as Saskatoon berries (a wild cousin of the blueberry), were often dried and then ground into a powder for use as an addition to pemmican.

Pemmican was made from dried, thin strips of meat from large game like elk, deer and buffalo. It was then ground down into almost a powdery texture, animal tallow was added, and extra ingredients such as the dried berries were often incorporated as well.

This mixture was formed into cakes that could be stored for months, and the vitamin-enhanced pemmican became crucial resource that allowed the first European fur traders to survive the harsh winters.

Cranberry Bushes | Foodal.com

It also became a thriving source of commerce for the Métis of the Red River region, who had three flavors to offer the trappers – taureaux à grains being the berry-enriched version.

These bright red berries wouldn’t have been totally unknown to the early settlers, as similar species are native to the UK and the cooler regions of Europe.

However, the Europeans didn’t really adapt to the indigenous uses of the cranberry, and primarily stuck to their own traditions: mainly using them to make a sour fruit sauce for fowl, and occasionally including them in stuffings and puddings.

A basket of cranberries | Foodal.com

However, when the Brits brought honeybees to the New World in the mid 1600s, use of the fruit grew considerably, as they now had their own steady supply of a sweetener – honey.

After this, cranberries started to show up in pies and tarts and as a side dish on their own, sweetened with honey of course. At this time, they started to make an appearance in the cookbooks of the early pilgrims as well.

Botany

Cranberries are a group of evergreen dwarf shrubs in the subgenus Oxycoccus of the genus Vaccinium. They grow in wetland bogs that characteristically have acidic water, sphagnum moss and peat – not ideal growing conditions for most plants, but the tough little cranberries love it.

A shrub, they also have vine-like qualities and propagate by sending runners along the floor of the bog, creating new plants wherever they can take root.

A common misconception is that the bushes grow in water – in truth, the bogs are only flooded when the berries are ripe. This allows the fruit to fall from the bush and float in the water, making it easy for farmers to collect and harvest.

Cranberry Bog | Foodal.com

In areas where severe winter weather might harm the plants or fruiting buds, the bog is left flooded to protect the vines and buds from injuries associated with cold weather. The water is then drained when warmer weather arrives in the spring.

Today, commercially produced cranberries are grown in man-made bogs designed to replicate their native habitat. The growing medium is composed in precise layers of clay, soil and sand, and flooding is controlled by irrigation systems to recreate their wetland environment.

Nutrition and Health Benefits

Very low in calories with only 51 for a full cup, the cranberry offers an abundant array of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

In a one cup serving, they’re a very good source of vitamin C with 24% of daily values, 20% of dietary fiber and manganese, and they are also a good source of vitamins E and K at 7% each, as well as copper and pantothenic acid, which are both at 3%. (1)

The Health Benefits of Cranberries | Foodal.com

Among the phytonutrients are phenolic acids, proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, flavonoids, and triterpenoids. And many of these phytonutrients offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer health benefits (2), (3). As far as healthy foods go, cranberries are at the top of the list and have rightfully earned the moniker “superfood.”

As the nutritional values of this fruit are studied in greater depth, information from these studies now suggests that this native berry offers more than just good nutrition, and may also promote:

  • Gastrointestinal health
  • Oral health
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL) while increasing “good” cholesterol (HDL)
  • Help with stroke recovery
  • Help with the prevention of cancer

Urinary Tract Infections: The cranberry is highly regarded for its important role in preventing UTIs, particularly for those who are prone to recurring infections. This is attributed to their high levels of proanthocyanidins (PACs), which reduces the ability of certain bacteria to cling to urinary tract walls and, in turn, resists infections.

Cardiovascular Disease: The next highlight is the increase in the health of cardiovascular systems, which comes in the form of a potent combination of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.

Two common causes of blood vessel damage are oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, which wreak havoc with the walls of blood vessels. And once these cells are damaged, they open the door to plaque formation, which greatly increases our chances of developing atherosclerosis.

The next highlight is improvements to the health of cardiovascular systems, which comes in the form of a potent combination of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.

The regular consumption of cranberries and cranberry juice (in average amounts, not the super-concentrated doses distributed to study subjects) have also been shown to prevent the activation of two enzymes that are critical in the process of atherosclerosis.

The antioxidant components of cranberries has even been shown to play an important role in alleviating the risk of high blood pressure. By reducing oxidative stress in blood vessels, they’re less prone to over-constriction and undesirable increases in blood pressure.

And finally, cranberries help us to control cholesterol levels by lowering our LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels, while at the same time bolstering levels of HDL cholesterol. This is because they help our cells to improve oxidative and anti-inflammatory components within their environment.

Immune Support: Research in this field is still in the fledging phase, but recent studies show that consuming cranberry extracts improves several aspects of immune function and reduces the symptoms of colds and the flu in study subjects.

An exciting area of study for the future…

Cancer: Another intriguing area of research is that of cancer prevention, with several key mechanisms being identified in the last 10 years as anti-cancer agents.

This list of anti-cancer properties is supported through a wide range of studies and shows particular promise in the areas of breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers.

These include blocking the expression of particular cancer cells, inhibiting enzymes that are known to contribute to cancer, and triggering programmed cell death in tumorous cells.

This list of anti-cancer properties is supported through a wide range of studies and shows particular promise in the areas of breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers.

Of course, two of the key risk factors in the likelihood of developing cancer are excessive oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

So, when you consider the cranberry’s abundance of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients, it’s not really surprising that they show the capacity to help lower the risk of cancer development.

Stroke Recovery: Preliminary studies also have researchers excited by early evidence that cranberries may reduce brain cell damage associated with strokes.

These findings suggest that cranberries may be able to assist in recovery from stroke – with exposure to cranberry juice in the earliest stages, during which the most severe damage usually occurs, a statistically significant effect has been shown in reducing brain cell death.

Oral Health: Those very same proanthocyanidins (PACs) that help to reduce and prevent urinary tract infections are also show benefits to oral health.

Studies in this field indicate that the PACs prevent bacteria from forming a bond on teeth, which plays an important role in reducing and preventing periodontal disease.

Selection and Storage

This tart and tangy berry is a fruit with a short season, and fresh cranberries are harvested in the months of September and October only. They then make their appearance in the markets and grocery stores from October through December.

Look for berries that have a fresh, plump appearance, a deep red color with a slightly matte finish, and firm flesh that resists pressure when given a light squeeze.

Fresh Cranberries | Foodal.com

Soft, soggy or wrinkled berries are of a lesser quality and should be avoided, as firm flesh is the primary indicator of high quality. And the deeper red their color is, the more concentrated and abundant their highly beneficial anthocyanin compounds will be.

Look for berries of the deepest red hue for the best phytonutrient content.

You’ll often find cranberries pre-packaged in plastic bags, but more grocers and markets are beginning to offer them in bulk, so you can inspect them closely before purchasing. As always, shop locally whenever possible to ensure that you get the freshest berries.

Caring for cranberries | Foodal.com

Store fresh, ripe cranberries in the fridge for up to three weeks. When taken out of the fridge they may sweat a bit, but this moisture doesn’t indicate spoilage unless they’ve become discolored, or if they feel leathery or sticky.

Frozen cranberries can be kept in the freezer for up to one year. To freeze, wash the berries and spin dry in a salad spinner. Spread out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze for a couple of hours. Once firmly frozen, transfer to an airtight freezer bag, date it and pop it in the freezer.

When thawed, the berries will be soft and should be used as soon as possible.

Cranberry Care

Treat cranberries with the same care as blueberries. Before using, place the berries in a colander or salad spinner and rinse well with cool, running water. Shake the colander gently to remove excess water, or give them a good whirl in the spinner to get them really dry.

When using frozen berries in recipes, remember to extend the cooking time by an extra couple of minutes. To enjoy the highest amount of nutrients, enjoy cranberries fresh. Like many other berries and other fruits, they lose some of their nutritional content when cooked at temperatures at or above 350°F.

Serving Ideas

  • Use unsweetened cranberry juice to replace lemon juice or vinegar in homemade salad dressings and vinaigrettes. Mix salad greens with the dressing and add a few of the whole berries as a garnish for some color and extra tang. Add some blue cheese or soft goat cheese to counter the tart flavor.
  • Combine cranberries with other fresh fruit like bananas, pears, peaches or pineapple to balance their extreme tartness. Or add a wee drizzle of maple syrup or honey to a bowl of fresh berries, and mix with some chopped nuts and coconut for a tasty treat.
  • Mix equal amounts of unsweetened cranberry juice with sparkling or soda water for a bright and refreshing spritzer.
  • Add a fresh splash of color and zest to your baking by switching out raisins for dried, unsweetened cranberries. Or use the fresh version in recipes like quick breads and delicious cakes
  • A great addition to breakfast, sprinkle a small handful of dried cranberries on your homemade granola, cold cereal, oatmeal or yogurt to start the day right.
  • For a delicious and nutritious snack, dried cranberries also make a great addition to homemade trail mix, or any combination of lightly roasted and salted seeds and nuts.

That concludes our look at the consummate cranberry, but don’t go away! There are still some recipes for you to check out:

Best Cranberry Sauce from Scratch

Tart and sweet at the same time, this sauce is the perfect condiment for turkey, chicken, duck or pork, like served with our honey mustard pork chops. Easy to make, you’ll never settle for store bought again.

Best Homemade Cranberry Sauce | Foodal.com

Garnish with sprigs of rosemary for an extra festive look.

Best Cranberry Sauce From Scratch | Foodal.com
Best Cranberry Sauce from Scratch
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Servings Prep Time
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Passive Time
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Best Cranberry Sauce From Scratch | Foodal.com
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Servings Prep Time
10 servings 15 minutes
Passive Time
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Servings Prep Time
10 servings 15 minutes
Passive Time
5 hours
Ingredients
  • 3 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • juice of one orange
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. Place 2 1/2 cups of cranberries in a medium saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Add the honey, orange zest, orange juice and a couple of tablespoons of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  3. Increase heat to medium and cook until the berries split, another 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and stir in the remaining cranberries.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, then remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Pour into a mold and place in the fridge, allowing the sauce to set for several hours before serving - it will continue to thicken as it chills.
Recipe Notes

* After simmering, don’t cook the cranberries for longer than 15 minutes; they have high levels of pectin which will break down if overcooked. Allow at least five hours, and refrigerate overnight if possible, for the pectin to act and the sauce to set.

Best Cranberry Sauce From Scratch | Foodal.com

 

Baked Yams with Cranberry Wild Rice Stuffing

These baked yams with wild rice are wonderfully festive on a holiday table, but they are tasty enough to serve any time of the year.

Baked Yams with Cranberry Wild Rice Pilaf | Foodal.com

And if yams aren’t your thing, this pilaf works equally well baked in half of a small squash such as acorn or butternut, or served as a side dish on its own.

Recipe for Baked Yams with Cranberry Wild Rice Pilaf | Foodal.com
Baked Yams with Cranberry Wild Rice Stuffing
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6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
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Recipe for Baked Yams with Cranberry Wild Rice Pilaf | Foodal.com
Baked Yams with Cranberry Wild Rice Stuffing
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Servings Prep Time
6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 small yams scrubbed and trimmed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed and minced
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups wild rice rinsed
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup Lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup orange juice freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans chopped
  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons parsley chopped
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
Servings: people
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Pierce the yams all over with a fork, then rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast until tender, 45-60 minutes depending on their size.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then sauté the onion, garlic and cranberries for 2 minutes. Add the Balsamic vinegar and continue to sauté until the vinegar has been reduced. Remove from heat and set aside
  4. In a medium saucepan, bring the wild rice and stock to a boil. Reduce heat and cover, then simmer for 40 minutes, or until the grains begin to separate. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, make the dressing by mixing together the remaining olive oil, lemon zest, orange juice, lemon juice, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger.
  6. Add the onions, garlic, cranberries, pecans, pumpkin seeds, parsley and the dressing to the wild rice, and toss together until all ingredients are well coated.
  7. When fork tender, remove the yams from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, slice each yam lengthwise* and spoon a generous portion of rice pilaf onto each half. Serve while still warm.
Recipe Notes

Note: *If the yams are large, cut in half again.

 

Cranberry Pecan Pie

If you love nut pies but find most recipes to be overly sweet, try this version – the tart cranberries balance out the flavors beautifully.

Cranberry Pecan Pie | Foodal.com

Serve with a full-bodied coffee for a delicious finish to any meal.

You’ll also need:

  • A 10-inch deep dish pie plate
  • Parchment paper
  • Pie weights
Cranberry Pecan Pie Recipe | Foodal.com
Cranberry Pecan Pie
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Servings Prep Time
8 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time
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Cranberry Pecan Pie Recipe | Foodal.com
Cranberry Pecan Pie
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Servings Prep Time
8 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Ingredients
Pie Shell
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter about 1 stick cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ice water
Filling
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter cold
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries chopped
  • 1 cup whole pecans
Servings: slices
Units:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt.
  2. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal and the butter is pea-sized. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk and water with a fork, then stir into the flour mixture and mix until well combined.
  4. Gently knead in the bowl with floured hands until a dough begins to form. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently another 6-10 times. Roll the dough into a ball, then press into a disk. Wrap tightly in cling wrap and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.*
  5. Preheat the oven to 425°F, with a rack placed in the lower part of the oven.
  6. When the dough is chilled, roll it out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin to about 1/8” thick and about 13” in diameter. Fit into the pie plate and trim the edge of the dough, leaving an extra 1/2” lip. Flip the lip back over the rim and press to reinforce the edges. Lightly prick the shell all over with a fork, then chill in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
  7. Line the pastry shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights.
  8. Bake until the pastry is set and the edge is a light golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. Gently remove the paper and weights and finish baking the shell until it's a light golden brown all over, another 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  9. Move the rack back to the middle of the oven, and reduce heat to 350°F.
  10. In a medium mixing bowl, make the filling. Whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the cranberries and pecans, mixing well.
  11. Pour the filling into the shell and bake 40-45 minutes, or until the filling is set. If the rim of the pastry is getting too dark, cover the edge with some tin foil.
  12. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before serving.**
Recipe Notes

Cranberry Pecan Pie Recipe | Foodal.com

Notes:

*The dough can be made up to two days in advance and kept in the fridge until you are ready to make the pie.

**This pie can be baked a day ahead of time and kept at room temperature. Cover with a clean tea towel.

 

Notes:

(1) Nutrition Data, Cranberries, raw http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1875/2

(2) Taylor Francis Online, J. Côté, S. Caillet, G. Doyon, J.-F. Sylvain & M. Lacroix, Bioactive Compounds in Cranberries and their Biological Properties. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408390903044107?journalCode=bfsn20

(3) The FASEB Journal, Kandice Beverly, Arpita Basu and Edralin A. Lucas, Anti-inflammatory effects of cranberry juice in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW 264.7 murine macrophage cells. http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/meeting_abstract/22/1_MeetingAbstracts/890.8

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About Lorna Kring

Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.

64 thoughts on “The Consummate Cranberry: A Gem for Good Health”

  1. My family still buys the canned sauce every year, but I also INSIST on making my own from scratch. All except for the pickiest members of my family love it. My recipe is very similar to yours, except I use sugar instead of honey, and have never tried putting black pepper in it. But I might this year.
    Also, folks should know that if they don’t like a chunky cranberry sauce, you can pass the hot sauce through a sieve before the chilling step. What you’ll get is a nice solid compote. It’s good stuff.
    Leftover whole-berry cranberry sauce can be combined with some crushed pineapple and a little chopped cilantro and jalapeno for a nice quick cranberry pineapple salsa. Sometimes I throw in a shot of Mezcal or Tequila to up the ante.

  2. It’s always interesting to read these articles on Foodal, not only do I know how the food being featured benefits and protects my body, Foodal also goes the extra mile by giving us tidbits of information on the background of the food itself. Also with regards to the recipes featured in the article, I tried them out and they turned out great, would definitely recommend them to others!

    As always, great work on the article and keep up the good work!

  3. This is really terrific information. I appreciate it. I had no idea cranberries had so much goodness in them and the positive affect they can have on your health. The recipes are just awesome. I will try them out.

  4. It is interesting to find out that one of the most commonly overlooked seasonal berries contains many of the vitamins and nutrients that we need for good health. Instead of making cranberry sauce this year I think we can just mix them in our favorite juices! Thank you for this informative post.

    • Well, they definately have a powerful, astringent taste in their raw form sarah_sm…I hope you find something that will work for you!

  5. When I was in America, I used to drink cranberry juice every morning and it became my most favorite juice although I know there are other, non-natural ingredients in it. This year, me and my boyfriend made a delicious cranberry jam and everyone in my family loves it!!

  6. Everything that I have ever learned and heard in regards to this little red fruit is from a particular (and sometimes funny!) commercial. Growing up in an Asian family, we never had cranberry sauce during Thanksgiving (we had a lot of Chinese dishes…hehe).

    However, it wasn’t until about 3 years ago when I spent the holiday with my now husband’s family and his mom dished out her homemade cranberry sauce. I think I almost died when I ate some: I couldn’t believe how naturally sweet (she didn’t add any extra sugar because of health issues in the family) the sauce is, and how it had just the right amount of tanginess that makes me want more!

    Now I’m looking more and more forward to the day of eating 🙂 Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  7. I’m converted! I tried your cranberry and wild rice stuffing ,which we had with a small homegrown pumpkin over the weekend and it was delicious. I like the juice, but have never liked them made into sauce. The stuffing is a perfect compromise.

  8. That sauce doesn’t seem too hard to make!
    Looks like my aunt won’t have a monopoly on the cranberry production this Christmas, ha!
    I forgot that they have such great health benefits!
    Makes me think I should be adding them to my regular rotation.

    • Very easy to make jony, perfect for usurping the cranberry queen! And aside from treating UTI’s, their health benefits don’t get much press but they certainly bring a lot to the table. Thanks for your comments.

  9. This article is so information. I am really looking forward to trying out a few of the recipes here. The health benefits though, I knew that cranberries help with UTI’s, cardiac health and maybe cancer but you have shown me that they do a lot more that just that. I look forward to incorporating more into my diet.

  10. Thank you for that. My SO has been preaching to me how positive for your health cranberries can be, but I had no idea they were THAT good! My immune system tends to be pretty weak so there’s that. I haven’t really eaten cranberries besides some store-bought juice, so I can’t testify yet. The pecan pie looks delicious!

    • They do pack a a lot of value for our diets Astdua. And the pecan pie is delish, but probably not the best recipe to showcase their nutritional value! Still, it’s a great way to introduce their flavor for someone unfamiliar with the taste… thanks for your comments.

  11. I’m slightly embarrassed to say that the only cranberry sauce I’ve ever had was that big blob from the can. I also think the only time I’ve ever had the juice was when I had a urinary tract infection! So needless to say, I don’t have a very favorable opinion of cranberries, but lately I’ve been putting craisins in my salad and they are delicious. I’m anxious to try one of your recipes. I’ve also never been very fond of pecan pie, so I think I’m going to try that first. The combination sounds really good. Thanks for helping to convert me! 🙂

  12. We always eat the canned gelled cranberry sauce or cranberry relish with our holiday dinners. My daughter also make a really good dressing for the turkey, using fresh berries. This article really held my interest because I didn’t know a lot about them, except they taste so good. LOL When I was in High School, I discovered that I enjoyed eating them by the bags full. I still do, but now I appreciate their health benefits as well.

    • My lips are puckering just thinking of eating a bag of raw cranberries! You’re a brave soul icecat… and thanks for the tip about adding them them to the stuffing, it sounds great.

  13. Whoa, I’ve never realized that you can make so many tasty cuisines with good ole cranberries! I think I’m gonna add dry them and to my muesli flakes.
    You have so much knowledge about healthy food, that’s amazing! How did you learn all this?

    • They’re a natural to add to muesli, granola, oatmeal, yogurt, muffins… a great way to start the day! And thanks for your kind words Elfprincess, I’m just curious and like to know how things work. Particularly things that make me feel good, like healthy food…

  14. That cranberry sauce looks divine. I’ve never put honey in my homemade sauce but I think I might give it a try this Thanksgiving. Have you ever tried it made with half orange juice and half pomegranate? My mother makes it this way and I think it is so delicious but pomegranate juice and be rather expensive. I am a whole orange girl myself though because we always have oranges in the house this time of year. I did not know that you can freeze them and to know that they can freeze for year is great information especially since around the end of the season they tend to go on sale if the store have any leftover.

    • I haven’t tried it with the pomegranate juice Renee82, but it does sound delicious – and even healthier! And they have such a short appearance in the stores, it is nice to pop some in the freezer for later use. Thanks for your comments.

    • I cannot say that I have ever heard of anyone making it with half orange juice and half pomegranate, but I have to say that it sounds very intriguing. I have always loved pomegranate juice, and it i just one of those things that for whatever reason I do not enjoy enough. I might have to keep this is mind, especially with Thanksgiving coming up. The freezing is nice too, and certainly helps to ease my worries about making too much.

  15. I enjoy eating a few raw cranberries every year when we make cranberry sauce. Most people don’t like it, but I really enjoy the taste of then.

  16. I was wondering what health benefits there are to eating actual cranberries. I come from a family that doesn’t traditionally celebrate thanksgiving, so my only experience with them is in juice form. However, it all seems really artificial, so I would love to try it for real. Probably going to get some raw berries and go from there. Thanks for the article and the recipes!

    • Pure juice without any additives is available Nate5, although fairly pricey…. but if you have a juicer, you can make your own with fresh or frozen berries. Hope you enjoy the recipes!

  17. I love the taste of cranberries. It’s good to eat in my granola. I also love the sauce even though I only enjoy it about once a year. When it comes to the benefits of eating this fruit I have heard it is good when it comes to UTIs. I have never had one before and I don’t plan on it either. When you have something that taste this good and is good for you, there is no need to turn to junk food all of the time.

    • They’re a wonderful addition to breakfast cereals Jasmine. And you’re so right, no need to for junk food with these tasty little treasure troves…

  18. I can’t imagine Thanksgiving without cranberry Sauce. I refuse to eat dressing unless I have this yummy sauce to eat with it. My husband suffers from gout, and he drinks the juice for it. I must admit I can’t handle the taste of the juice it is to over powering for me. That doesn’t stop when it comes to the sauce it is something I look forward to each year.

    • Dressing just isn’t dressing without it kk! And pure juice is potent tasting, but it’s amazing what we can get used to if it means an improvement in health – like your husband’s gout. Hope you get your fill of sauce this year!

  19. Wow, thanks for sharing all that info about cranberries.

    I knew they were good for UTIs but had no idea about the cardiovascular benefits. Do you need fresh cranberries to get those benefits, I wonder, or are dried cranberries and cranberry juice (commercial) helpful, too?

    Growing up in Australia, I didn’t know cranberries existed until a few years ago when cranberry juice became popular in supermarkets, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the fresh berries for sale in shops – I might just have to look into growing some at home 🙂 I do like them – well, I like the dried fruit anyway and add it to a few dishes.

    Again, I wonder if cranberry sauce can be made from dried cranberries? I enjoy cranberry sauce with turkey – not sure I’d have time to make it for Christmas but it’s a nice idea! And as I love pecan pie, I really want to try your cranberry and pecan pie recipe…

    • Just make sure you stick to 100% cranberry juice, the cocktail is pure sugar. This is going to sound like an ad but Ocean Spray has a great 100% juice with no added sugar, which is what I reach for when I get horrible cramps. If you’re so inclined, I’m sure there are plenty of organic options as well.

    • Fresh cranberries and cranberry juice, not cocktail, offer the best nutritional content LSA, and you need to be careful with the dried berries as they’re usually sweetened. I’ve never tried making a cb sauce with the dried berries – there would be very little juice released, so that would have to be compensated for. The texture would be different too, but it would probably taste fine with a little experimenting…

      • Good point about them being relative juiceless, Lorna.

        ‘cocktail’ is not a term I am used to in terms of juices – to me a cocktail is a mixed alcoholic drink (which may or may not contain cranberry juice!) I’m guessing cordial or sweetened juice is what would be our equivalent… which is not where I would look for nutritional benefit

  20. Looking at these pictures reminds me just how absolutely gorgeous cranberries are in their fresh state. I can honestly say I have never tried a raw berry and I am intrigued about the idea of adding them with bananas, pears, or peaches with honey. I may just have to give this a try. I do take cranberry pills on a daily basis for the health benefits so I appreciate this post as it inspires me to add cranberry’s more into my daily eating habits.

    • They are indeed beautiful to behold daniconk, and a natural with other fruits and honey. Enjoy working them into your eating plans!

  21. Cranberries are a bit of an unsung year-round hero. Everyone forgets about them until thanksgiving, and even then, they reach for the can. As someone who knows the joy of making and enjoying their own cranberry sauce, this article is music to my ears. I just recently learned about the cranberry’s cousin, lingonberries; I’m wondering if they could be used for similar applications. lingonberries are slightly more tart, but could they be used in conjunction with their cousin berry?

    • Lingonberries are the Nordic version of cranberries so I’m sure they would be interchangeable in recipes. Glad you’re a fan of these healthy gems cnt422!

  22. I have to agree with some of the users mentioned above and admit that I have never tried fresh cranberries. I cannot seem to find a store near me that carries them frequently. Would reconstituted craisens work as a substitute for most recipes?

    • Fresh cranberries do seem to be a seasonal item in the grocery stores esther_lee, and only make an appearance in winter.

      I think frozen berries would probably be a better substitute over reconstituted craisins because: a) most craisins are dried with sugar to sweeten them up, and b) they won’t release that same amount of juice of either fresh or frozen berries, which is important for a lot of recipes. Hope that helps.

  23. I agree with cranberries being a super fruit, especially since it also helps with lowering blood pressure and flushing your body of toxins so you don’t get sick. I usually have a bottle of Cranberry juice for a week and my doctor noticed my blood pressure had lowered by a good amount since drinking the juice for like two weeks. I have my mom drink cranberry juice regularly and it helps cut down the salt/sugar that lingers in her body and cleans her out.

    • It’s a fantastic internal cleanser SereneAngel88, and that’s pretty cool to hear about the drop in your blood pressure. Thanks for sharing with us!

  24. Good article very informative, I never knew that cranberries had been used for dye. I also didn’t know they were made into dried cakes. I guess it was kind of like an old-school trail mix. I wonder if they’re a recipe for that somewhere. I’d love to make it. Are Saskatoon berries still around? I’ve never heard of them before this article. Cranberries are always so awesome to eat I wish I had my own bog. Maybe I can make a mini version in my backyard but I doubt it. This article is awakening a craving for cranberry juice I didn’t even know I had. I did know that they helped teat UTI’s though. My sister had one once and the doctor told her to drink a lot of cranberry juice with her medicine. I can never tell what berries are better than the others. Even when I go in the store they all look the same to me but now I know what berries to go for. I guess I’ll be making a lot more cranberry desserts once thanksgiving rolls around again.

  25. Cranberries are great year round. We often have something around the house made with cranberries and when we don’t there are dried cranberries in the cupboard. It’s almost a staple food in my home.

  26. What fantastic recipes involving cranberries. I have found cranberries to be a bit tart for my taste, however I love them dried. I wonder if dried cranberries still hold on to the vitamins they had before being dried. I also like to drink cranberry juice, you are absolutely right there are so many health benefits. Don’t think I have ever had cranberry with baked sweet potatoes..this may be an interesting combination.

    • They do hold onto a significant portion of vitamins and nutrients when dried sheebah, unfortunately sugar is also added, which kind of negates their health benefits… hope you enjoy the recipes.

  27. I have noticed how popular cranberries have become, I have seen them in juices, desserts and even on regular foods! But I can definitely see why, they taste is just delicious and unique, but not just that, I was amazed while I was reading this whole post, it’s incredible how a simple thing like this can do for us! Sometimes we don’t need to look for medicines and expensive treatments to get a good health, sometimes is good to just look around and grab some fruit.
    Thanks for sharing!

  28. Simple and natural’s an awesome path for good health ae, and cranberries certainly do their bit! Thanks for your comments.

  29. These are some great recipes! I used to think that I hated cranberries because I never liked that awful jelled sauce out of a can as a kid. When I got older, I got the chance to try fresh cranberries, and I love them. They’re on the sour side, but not as sour as a lemon or a lime. They also are really good when frozen, and I’ll often freeze a bag and mix them in with frozen blueberries or raspberries for a nice TV time snack. They have sort of a spongy texture in the middle, which is especially nice when they are frozen. They’re also great to add dried to just about any fall recipe, and they taste great in oatmeal, especially alongside pumpkin seeds, and they make a great trail mix with sunflower seeds and chocolate candies.

    • Haha, that jellied stuff from the can really doesn’t do them justice! Love your mixed berry snack HK – thanks for your ideas!

  30. It’ unfortunate that I’m allergic to cranberries, but this is a great recipe to share with friends. Thanks for the article.

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