Cranberries are a small, interesting fruit with a tart flavor that can be enjoyed in many dishes ranging from appetizers, sauce, stuffing, crisp, candy, and cocktails. Cranberries have been reported to provide a wide range of health benefits, including control of chronic inflammation, chronic cardiovascular diseases and urinary tract infections (UTI). This is attributed to the high concentrated source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, and vitamin C and vitamin E, which are important antioxidant nutrients.
These delicious little berries grow on a low-lying vine that requires special growing conditions, including acid peat soil and freshwater. Cranberries typically grow in low-lying beds or bogs that were created by glacial deposits. Modern cultivation practices use wetlands ponds and other water bodies. The North American cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, is the fruit recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as the standard for fresh cranberries and the cranberry juice cocktail. It grows on trailing vines like a strawberry.
Normally, growers do not replant each year since an undamaged cranberry vine will survive indefinitely. Some vines on Cape Cod are more than 150 years old and still bearing fruit. While Wisconsin is currently the major growth region for cranberries (>50%), they are grown throughout New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec. Other regions grow cranberries as well, including Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, and the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario. Cranberries are typically floated in water for easy harvesting and there are no shortage of cranberry festivals across the country.
Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce (prepare extra for the crisp recipe below)
I absolutely adore the tart flavor of cranberries and I associate this distinct flavor with fall and the winter holiday season. Orange is a great complement to cranberry. Preparing cranberry sauce is so easy. Dump everything in a pot, heat until the berries pop and the mix thickens, transfer to a storage container. Doesn’t get easier!
Here is a link to my favorite Cranberry Orange Sauce Recipe. I didn’t have a zester handy at the cabin, so I had to use a peeler and slice the strips with a knife. If you don’t have the right kitchen gadget don’t give up. There is always an alternative. The trick is to avoid the bitter pith (white part of the orange peel). I recommend going light on the sugar addition. For me the recipe specified just the right amount, but it’s always best to add to your desired sweetness level as berry sweetness can vary.