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A Cranberry Thanksgiving
Sauces, Relish & Cooking Tips

a bowl of cranberriesWhat would Thanksgiving be without the cranberries?

Thanksgiving and cranberries in the USA date back to 1621 when Pilgrims and Native Americans feasted together to celebrate the fall harvest and reflect upon their blessings. That's when the early settlers first learned all about the fruit that was native to North America -- which was harvested for generations before Europeans first "discovered" America!

Fact is, cranberries were already a traditional staple in the diet of local Indian tribes. The juice was also carefully reserved for making colorful dyes for clothes and blankets. Maybe more importantly, cranberries' health benefits (cranberries are high in vitamin C and chock full of cancer-fighting antioxidants) were recognized by Indian tribes long before modern science stumbled upon the information.

Thanksgiving has changed over the years, but the essence of giving thanks for our blessings and the commemoration of the Pilgrim's landing in Plymouth, Massachusetts still remains.

Food has been, and still is, the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving holiday. Since the very first Thanksgiving in 1621, cranberries have been on most American's holiday menus and steeped in this country's heritage.

This Thanksgiving, feel good—and healthy too—­ about eating plenty of cranberry goodies.

whole cranberry sauceTips for cooking with cranberries

  • A 12-ounce bag of cranberries equals three cups.

  • Leftover cranberry sauce can be refrigerated for several days or it can be frozen in an air-tight container up to a year.

  • Fresh cranberries will stay fresh and retain nutrients frozen for nine months to a year. Place bags of fresh berries directly into the freezer in their original bags.

  • Boiling cranberries is essential to release natural pectin inside the cranberry for gelling. You must boil the berries long enough to ensure the release of appropriate pectin. (Cook for at least 10 minutes.)

  • To add zing and texture to your bread or grain-based stuffing, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries to your recipe.

Fun facts about cranberries:

cranberry plant• Early European settlers named the fruit "crane berry" because they thought the cranberry blossom looked like the head of a crane.

• Henry Hall, a Revolutionary War veteran, planted the first commercial cranberry bed in Dennis, Massachusetts in 1816.

• The first commercial canned cranberry sauce was marketed by the Cape Cod Cranberry Company in 1912.

• It's a common myth that cranberries actually grow under water. In reality, they grow in cranberry fields on woody vines. Water is used to "float" the fruit for easier harvesting.

• More than a billion pounds of cranberries are produced each year by leading growers in the United States, Canada, and Chile.

• Cranberries score among the highest of all fruits in antioxidants.

• Only 5% of cranberries are sold fresh. The remaining 95% are turned into cranberry juice, cranberry sauce, and other cranberry products.

Also try these holiday cranberry sauce recipes:

Classic Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

Triple Berry Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Orange Relish

More about cranberries around the Web:

The Cranberry Institute - Check out everything you ever wanted to know about cranberries...

Cranberry Crafts for Kids - Fun things to do with 'em including a kid-friendly recipe.


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