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Cranberries are deep-red colored fruit with a predominantly tangy flavor that dominates the basic sweet flavor. The berries are obtained from the evergreen shrub plant of cranberry. The young fruit are white in color Cranberries are very popular as consumer product and called as ‘super fruit’ due to its commercial and culinary uses. There are various desserts as well as drink recipes that are prepared with cranberries. Some of the most popularly served cranberry recipes are cranberry sauce, cranberry nut bread and cranberry cocktail.

History of Cranberries

Cranberries get their name from the long-necked bird called ‘crane’. The European settlers in USA felt that the cranberry plant has the flower, leaves and stem resembling the neck and the head of the bird. In North Canada, cranberries were famous as ‘mossberry’ and berries grown in marshy lands were called ‘fenberry’. The American natives settled in North America are believed to be the first ones who used cranberries to make cranberry dishes. The traditional meals on Thanksgiving include cranberry recipes. In Europe, cranberries got the popularity in 1820’s.

Culinary Use of Cranberries

As one of the most commercially grown berries, cranberries are used widely in global cuisine. These acidic berries are highly processed to make sauces with different ingredients as well as to make cranberry juice. Cranberry juice is fondly incorporated to make several alcoholic cocktails as well as mocktails. Among desserts; muffins, cakes and candies are some of the well-liked cranberry recipes.

Cranberries are widely consumed fresh as well. Even dried cranberries are extensively incorporated to various cranberry dishes. Cranberry compote and cranberry jelly are immensely popular in global cuisine. The tartness of cranberries makes them a favorable ingredient of innovative chefs to include them in soups and stew dishes. Frozen cranberries also lend them to several cranberry recipes as a garnish. One more significant role of cranberries is to make ‘cranberry wine’ in most of the cranberry producing countries.

Cranberry sauce is also used to glaze meats and poultry. In Thanksgiving meals, cranberry recipes are indispensable.

Popular Cranberry Recipes

• Cosmopolitan – It is one of the most popular cocktail made with cranberry juice. Other components of this alcoholic drink are vodka and triple sec. It is also famous as ‘cosmo’.
• Cranberry sauce – Among the cranberry recipes, this is the most popular one. Cranberry sauce is a vital dish in traditional thanksgiving meals.
• Cranberry wine – This is an alcoholic drink that is processed with cranberries. It is mostly consumed in USA.
• Salmon with spiced cranberry relish – In this recipe, cooked salmon is served with cranberry sauce made with little spices or seasonings.
• Cranberry almond biscotti – It is a very popular cranberry dessert served in international cuisine.

Cuisines Commonly Making Cranberry Dishes

Cranberry is widely grown in American and Canadian states and hence cranberry recipes are immensely popular in American as well as Canadian cuisines. In these cuisines, cranberry sauce is consumed as a holiday and traditional Thanksgiving accompaniment.. Other cranberry recipes such as cranberry wine and cranberry desserts are quite popular in American and Canadian cuisine.

Winter festivals in Europe usually include cranberry dishes such as breads, cakes and cranberry scones. Like Canadian and American cuisines, cranberry sauce enjoys a high status in European festivals as well. Cranberry cocktails are also very popular here.

Cranberry is a popular berry hence it has many uses in other cuisines also. Some Asian cuisines make good use of cranberry juice for providing tartness to several savory dishes. Cranberry glazed meat dishes are widely served as main dishes.

Preferred Methods of Making Cranberry Recipes

• Baked – Cranberry cakes, scones, cookies and muffins are generally made with baking method.
• Boiled – Cranberries are boiled in sugar syrup to make cranberry sauce and cranberry relish.
• Extracted – the extracted cranberry juice is relished as a beverage or mixed with alcohol.
• Mixed – Cranberry juice is fondly mixed with alcohol to make cranberry cocktail.
• Canned – Cranberries are often sold in cans. Berries are dipped in sugar syrup and used as a dessert topping.
• Frozen – Frozen cranberries are frequently used without thawing to make numerous cranberry dishes.

Nutritive Value of Cranberry

Cranberry is a nutritive fruit that has some good amount of vitamin C and dietary fibers. Manganese is also present in cranberries. The polyphenol antioxidants present in the cranberries act as anti-cancer chemicals. It is also helpful in providing some benefits to the immune and cardiovascular systems.

The best health benefit provided by the cranberry juice is the prevention against kidney and urine infection, this is due to the reason that the juice has anti-clotting properties.

Consumption Criteria of Cranberries

Cranberry juice is not suitable for patients taking a medicine called ‘warfarin’. This information is given by a UK agency that deals with the safety of drugs. Some adverse effects are seen in the patients consuming cranberry juice and the mentioned medicine simultaneously.

Buying and Storing of Cranberries

The best season for buying cranberries is October-December. Shiny and deep red fruits are always recommended for purchase. Hard cranberries should be purchased and soft, browned berried should be avoided. The best way to check the good cranberries is to roll them on the floor. Good cranberries may bounce like ball whereas bad ones never bounce.

In refrigerator, cranberries can be stored for up to two months and can be frozen for a year or so. Cranberry dishes can also be kept in refrigerator, but not more than 2-3 days as tartness of the berries may spoil the taste of the dish.

Types of Cranberries

Cranberries are classified according to the varieties available in the supermarkets. These varieties are as follows:

• Whole cranberries – These berries are available throughout the year. They are either sweet or sour in taste.
• Canned cranberries – Cranberries are processed in sugar syrup and stored in cans. These types of berries are mostly used in desserts.
• Frozen cranberries – Cranberries are frozen and used without thawing in desserts and drinks.
• Dried cranberries – Whole sweet cranberries are often dried and sold for cooking purposes.

Cranberry Trivia

Cranberries are also famous as ‘bouncing berries’ as good berries always bounce like soft balls.