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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

A Celebration of Cranberries

A Celebration of Cranberries

When I was a kid, cranberries were just a red Jell-O-like substance that came out of a tin can at the grocery store. I never touched the stuff. Thankfully, like most kids, I grew out of that picky phase. I not only learned to try new foods before saying I didn’t like them, I also began to realize and, over time, value where my food came from. It started to matter to me how far it traveled to get to my plate. The more local it was and the more I ate with the seasons, the healthier I ate and the more I enjoyed a food. Now, I love cranberries! Whether it’s in a dessert or savory meal they are truly a treat to have on the dinner table.

The cranberry, along with the blueberry and Concord grape, is one of North America’s three native fruits that are commercially grown. Cranberries were first used by American Indians, who discovered the wild berries’ versatility as a food, fabric dye, and healing agent. First Nations people used cranberries to treat bladder and kidney diseases and frequently enjoyed them sweetened with maple syrup and honey.

The Wampanoag tribe first introduced cranberries and other native foods to the Pilgrims back in 1620 and ever since, cranberries have been a Thanksgiving and/or Harvest Celebration tradition. Early settlers from England learned to use the berry both raw and cooked for many ailments, including appetite loss, digestive problems, blood disorders, and vitamin C deficiency (scurvy).

Today, cranberries, are ranked number one for high antioxidant content. In other words, they are full of cancer fighting properties, vitamin C, and phytonutrients that improve our immune system, keep our cardiovascular system healthy, and even cure urinary tract infections. Simply put, cranberries are and have always been a mouthful of medicine.

When you are planning your holiday meals and harvest feasts, don’t forget to pass the cranberries and be thankful for their incomparable flavor and bountiful healing powers. Even if you’re not a fan of that blob of tin can-shaped goo sitting next to your Thanksgiving turkey, remember that there are an endless number of possible ways to enjoy cranberries. Here are a few recipes to help you learn to love these delicious and nutritious ruby red berries:

Cranberry Rouille
Serves 8

Ingredients:
1 cup dry cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts
1-2 shallots or one onion, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs *
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt

Directions:
Heat orange juice over low heat in a pan. Add cranberries to the warm orange juice and cook until soft. Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth adding oil in at the end. Serve on crackers or with fresh vegetables.

* Using day old bread for crumbs, instead of store bought bread crumbs, is a great money-saver.

Thanksgiving Bread
Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients:
4 medium eggs
3 cups sugar
2 cups cooked pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cranberries

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two loaf pans. Beat eggs and sugar together in a large bowl. Add pumpkin and oil; beat until well mixed. In a separate large bowl, sift together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Add to pumpkin mixture; beat until just mixed. Gently fold in cranberries. Spoon mixture into prepared loaf pans. Bake 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each loaf comes out clean. Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce
Makes 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients:
12-oz bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
1 to 1 1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp dried ginger
2 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash of dried cloves
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 to 1 cup honey (dependent on taste)

Directions:
Bring orange juice, ginger, zest and cinnamon to a boil on high heat in a medium saucepan. Add cranberries to boiling liquid. Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for about 10 to 15 minutes. When mixture starts to thicken, add the crushed pineapple and honey. Remove from heat and cool.

Leftover Cranberry Sauce Suggestions:

• Try stirring left over cranberry sauce in a container of vanilla yogurt. Top with chopped pecans or walnuts for added protein.

• Holiday Pancake Breakfast – Top pancakes with warmed cranberry sauce. Serve with a side of smoked sausage.

Add-ins and modifications:
Commercially sold cranberry sauce is usually high in added refined sugars. You can offset this somewhat by adding in other fruits and juices. By expanding amount of cranberry sauce you have with whole foods, you reduce the proportion of refined sugar in each serving. You’ll also create a much more interesting side dish with a minimum of effort. Here are a few possibilities.

• Chopped apples
• Chopped pears
• Pureed persimmons
• Pear or apple juice instead of citrus
• Cinnamon
• Blueberries
• Chopped walnuts or pecans
• Chopped orange wedges

4 comments

1 Coggins { 11.21.13 at 4:55 pm }

Hot apple cider drink..quart of apple juice, quart of water, can of cranberry sauce, 1/2 cup brown sugar and one cinnamon stick. heat until hot, float orange slices on top, simmer 15 minutes and then enjoy. It’s the best

2 ann kitay { 11.24.10 at 10:40 pm }

I used fresh or frozen cranberries in my chicken skillet dinners…cooked in olive oil, veggies and the trinity. Good and good for you.

3 Sandi Duncan { 11.23.10 at 12:18 pm }

@Linda the recipe calls for a loaf pan which is usually around 8 x 4 x 2 1/2 in. Hope this helps. Happy baking.

4 linda hansen { 11.23.10 at 11:20 am }

i would love to make the Thanksgiving Bread tonight…what size bread pans?

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