Produce of the Month Guide: Cranberries

Produce of the Month Guide: Cranberries is an informative guide on cranberries and includes a round up of 35 fresh cranberry recipes!

Produce of the Month Guide: Cranberries is an informative guide on cranberries and includes a round up of 35 fresh cranberry recipes!

I truly love this time of year, don’t you?  Yes, it can be very hectic, but when you’re able to relax and soak everything in it’s glorious.  

The cold weather gives us all an excuse to cozy up in our homes and eat all the comfort food, drink hot chocolate and snuggle up in a warm blanket while watching a movie. 

It really doesn’t get much better!

Every fall I look forward to seeing fresh cranberries on the store shelves.  I buy bags and bags and stash them in the freezer because the season is just too short.

My love of fresh cranberries stemmed from the holidays growing up.  My dad always made the best fresh cranberry sauce — it blew that canned stuff out of the water!  

Every Christmas my mom would bake a variety of quick breads to give away as gifts, and the cranberry orange bread was my all time favorite.  

Cranberries are so festive…that color gets me every time. šŸ™‚

Produce of the Month Guide: Cranberries is an informative guide on cranberries and includes a round up of 35 fresh cranberry recipes!

Produce of the Month Guide:  Cranberries

What are cranberries?

Cranberries are fruits grown on evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines in the genus Vaccinium.  Blueberries, lingonberries and huckleberries are also members of this genus.

They’re one of the only fruits native to North America.  The fruit is small, hard and deep red in color, and has a very sour, bitter flavor.  

The fruit was named “cranberry” by Dutch and German settlers.  They thought the flower of the cranberry resembled the head and bill of a crane, and dubbed it “crane berry”. 

How do cranberries grow?

The cranberry growing season is from April to November.  The major production areas for cranberries are located in the northern part of the United States, including New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington.

Cranberries are very unique and are grown unlike any other fruit.  They grow on low-lying vines similar to strawberries, and have small evergreen leaves.  The berries are larger than the leaves, and turn from white to dark red when ripe.

They’re grow in beds (otherwise known as bogs or marshes) layered with sand, peat (moss), gravel and clay.  Commercial bogs use water bodies like ponds, wetlands, ditches and plumes to provide a natural habitat for wild life and plants.

The plants thrive in well drained soil that’s acidic with a low pH.

Produce of the Month Guide: Cranberries is an informative guide on cranberries and includes a round up of 35 fresh cranberry recipes!

Are raw cranberries edible? 

Yes, cranberries may be eaten raw, but they are quite tart all on their own.  They’re great in salsas, relishes, salads and even smoothies.  It’s best to combine them with sweet ingredients or add sugar to tame the tartness.

Cranberry health benefits and nutrition

Cranberries are very nutritious and include a wide variety of health benefits.  In fact, they’re a superfood and even outrank almost every fruit and vegetable in disease-fighting antioxidants, including strawberries, broccoli, blueberries and cherries to name a few.

Fresh cranberries are composed of 90% water, with the other 10% composed mostly of carbohydrates and fiber.  They’re low in sugar — which is why they’re so tart!

They’re a great source of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins C, E, K1 and magnesium and copper.

All of us have probably heard that we should drink cranberry juice to help prevent bacterial infections like urinary tract or yeast.  According to my research, 100% cranberry juice is the best kind to drink, but cranberry supplements are your best bet.  Of course, anything of this nature should be discussed with your doctor.

Consuming cranberries regularly may lower the risk of inflammation which can improve gut health and protect against chronic diseases.

Choosing and storing cranberries

Fresh cranberries are sold in plastic bags, so I try to inspect the bags carefully and choose one with the least amount of discolored or bruised berries. 

Store the cranberries in the original bag in the fridge and use within a week or so, or freeze for up to one year.

When ready to use, be sure to rinse the berries well and discard any discolored or bruised berries.

Cranberries may be made into cranberry sauce straight from the freezer or thawed first.

Produce of the Month Guide: Cranberries is an informative guide on cranberries and includes a round up of 35 fresh cranberry recipes!

How to use fresh cranberries

Past cranberry sauce, a lot of people have no idea what to do with fresh cranberries.  They’re great in both sweet and savory applications. 

I hope this round up of 35 fresh cranberry recipes will inspire you to use cranberries in a variety of ways!

Produce of the Month Guide: Cranberries is an informative guide on cranberries and includes a round up of 35 fresh cranberry recipes!

Appetizers:

Baked Camembert with Cranberry & Orange Compote by No Spoon Necessary

Cranberry Bacon Jam Crostini by Life Tastes Good

Orange Sugared Cranberries

Sweet Potato Crostinis with Spiced Ricotta and Roasted Cranberries by Sweet Peas and Saffron

Breakfast:

Cranberry Apple Butter by The View from Great Island

Cranberry French Toast Muffins by Spoonful of Flavor

Cranberry Orange Baked Oatmeal with Orange Cream Cheese Glaze

Cranberry Orange Bread by Savory Nothings

Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake with Pecan Oat Streusel

Cranberry Orange Muffins by Kristine’s Kitchen

Cranberry Orange Rolls by Plated Cravings

Cranberry Raspberry Smoothie by The Recipe Rebel

Cranberry White Chocolate Donuts by Love In My Oven

Fluffy Cranberry Orange Eggnog Pancakes

Drinks/Cocktails:

Cranberry Dark and Stormy by The Roasted Root

Cranberry Prosecco Cocktail Recipe by Cookin Canuck

Cranberry Sangria

Orange Cranberry Kombucha Moscow Mule

Slow Cooker Apple Cranberry Cider by The Recipe Rebel

Side dishes:

Cranberry Walnut Roasted Acorn Squash by Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce

Green Beans with Cranberries, Bacon and Goat Cheese by Running to the Kitchen

Honey Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Feta by Peas and Crayons

Roasted Acorn Squash Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Orange Maple Tahini Dressing by Food Faith Fitness

Roasted Butternut Squash Cranberry Salad by Love In My Oven

Main Dishes:

Cranberry Crusted Prime Rib Roast by Cupcakes and Kale Chips

Cranberry Orange Chicken by Sweet and Savory Meals

Garlic Rosemary Chicken with Cranberries by The Mediterranean Dish

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Pear Sauce by Iowa Girl Eats

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Cranberries and Leeks by Cookin Canuck

Sweets:

Almond Cranberry Thumbprint Cookies by Letty’s Kitchen

Apple Cranberry Pie by Baked by an Introvert

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies by The Bitter Side of Sweet

Easy Gluten Free Cranberry Shortbread Bars by Fearless Dining

Rustic Cranberry Galette by Salt and Lavender

 

References:

cranberries.org

Healthline

oceanspray.com

WebMD

Wikipedia

Produce of the Month Guide: Cranberries is an informative guide on cranberries and includes a round up of 35 fresh cranberry recipes!