Tart and tangy, this fruit stands out from the crowd for its versatility, numerous health benefits, and long recorded history. While cranberries are one of the few fruits native to North America, they play an impressive part in the history books, having been featured on the menu for the first Thanksgiving. And today, cranberries are a staple at every Thanksgiving table with more than 80 million pounds being used for this holiday alone—albeit in both fresh and canned forms.
The cranberry was part of the Native American diet before the settlers arrived and it remains a popular food till this day. Cranberries got their name from the German and Dutch settlers who thought the plants looked like the neck and head of a Crane bird and therefore called them ‘crane berries.’ Cranberries are considered superfoods no doubt due to their phytonutrient content. Science suggests that phytonutrients provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. In addition, cranberries are fat-, sodium- and cholesterol-free, plus they’re rich in vitamin C and fiber.
A common misconception about cranberries is that they are grown in water. Instead, water is added at harvest time during the fall season to aid in their removal. Cranberries are grown all over the country, but a majority (about 60 percent) are grown in Wisconsin. You can store this fruit in the fridge for up to two months or freeze for even longer. When purchasing, you should choose firm, bright red berries and avoid the shriveled ones.
There are many different ways to enjoy cranberries, whether it be in cranberry sauce, dried and sprinkled over a salad, in cranberry juice, or as a festive decoration at your holiday feasts. Need some culinary inspiration for your next cranberry craving? Give one of these delicious dishes a try: