Using and Preserving Cranberries
Elaine M. D'Sa, Ph.D.
National Center for Home Food Preservation
is here - along with the crunch of leaves underfoot and the making
of plans for the not-too-distant holiday season. And for the avid
cook – dusting off recipes for time-honored culinary traditions
that include America’s much-loved bird with all the accompaniments.
No Fall or Winter holiday table would be complete without at least
one cranberry item. It assumes even more significance being one
of three fruits native to North America (the others are the blueberry
and the Concord grape).
The cranberry (called ‘crane’berry by the Pilgrims)
is a wetland fruit (Vaccinium
macrocarpon) that is cultivated on low-growing vines in natural
or artificial ‘bogs’. Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New
Jersey, Oregon and Washington are the main cranberry growing states.
Harvest starts in September, and continues through November. The
fresh fruit is available in stores from October through December/early
January, usually in 12-ounce bags (equivalent to 3 cups of whole
berries). Several cranberry products have made their entrance into
supermarket aisles, including juice drinks and blends, frozen fruit,
canned sauces, crushed fruit, dried berries and snack mixes containing
Selection and Storage: The berries
should be brightly colored: fully red or yellowish-red with a smooth,
glossy and firm skin. Shriveled, soft, wrinkled berries or those
with surface blemishes should be discarded. Berries can be stored
in the original packaging in the refrigerator crisper for up to
4 weeks. Cranberries can also be stored frozen
for up to one year. To use after freezing, rinse in cold water and
Nutritional Value: The acid berries
are high in vitamin C – a cup of raw cranberries provides
about a fifth of the daily Vitamin C requirements for adults. Studies
have shown that cranberries have significant amounts of antioxidants
that may protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer,
and the importance of cranberries in promoting urinary tract health
has been extensively studied.
Uses: Raw cranberries are very tart
and bland-tasting, but incorporating them as fresh or dried fruit
in recipes adds color and a pleasing texture to the dish, as the
berries are high in natural pectin that helps gel development. Use
fresh cranberries for home-preserved novel canned items like Spicy
Cranberry Salsa, Cranberry
Orange Chutney and Cranberry
Conserve. These make attractive gift items to be included in
holiday gift baskets, or to grace that special-occasion table setting.
Use the chutney as a piquant side dish or to perk-up a sauce. The
Spicy Cranberry Salsa can be used directly as a dip, stirred into
cream cheese just before use to make a dipping sauce-with-a-difference,
or used as a side item as an accompaniment to meats. The Cranberry
Conserve is delicious on warm toast - use it to make those family
breakfasts special! Make your own canned Cranberry
Sauce for holiday use, or to stir into yogurt or homemade ice
cream. Whole cranberries
in syrup can be canned when the berries are in season, and home-dried
cranberries provide a healthy, economical alternative to high-calorie
So, start the holiday season early and enjoy making these attractive
homemade ‘crane'berry treats!
References and additional information on cranberry history, cultivation,
harvesting and trivia can be found at the following websites:
- Rutgers Cooperative Extension:
- The Cranberry Marketing Committee:
- The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association:
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension:
- University of Massachusetts Cranberry Station websites:
Elaine M. D’Sa is Research Coordinator with the National
Center for Home Food Preservation, Department of Foods and Nutrition,
College of Family and Consumer Sciences, The University of Georgia,
Images are courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture,
Agricultural Research Service Image Gallery, Images K4414-14 (Cranberry
bog) and K4418-6 (Cranberry harvest); and the National Center for
Home Food Preservation, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA.
This material is based upon work supported by the Cooperative
State Research, Education, and Extension Service, U.S. Department
of Agriculture, under Agreement No. 00-51110-9762.
Permission is granted to reproduce these materials in whole or
in part for educational purposes only (not for profit beyond the
cost of reproduction) provided the authors and the University of
Georgia receive acknowledgment and this notice is included:
Reprinted with permission of the University of Georgia. E. D’Sa.
2003. Using and Preserving Cranberries. Athens, GA: The University
of Georgia, Cooperative Extension Service.
References to commercials products, services, and information
is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended
and no endorsement by the University of Georgia, U.S. Department
of Agriculture and supporting organizations is implied. This information
is provided for the educational information and convenience of the
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