Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crazy For Cranberries

Cranberries may not be the star of the Thanksgiving meal but they certainly steal the show. Their brilliant ruby color commands attention and their tart taste is a palate cleanser. They're  good for not just holiday meals but for healthier eating and drinking. Another aspect is that they're extremely versatile. They can jazz up chutneys or be turned into fun mocktails.

Cranberries have a lot in common with Christmas trees and blueberries. Both  cranberries and firs are evergreens,.It shares a woody stem and bell shaped flower with the blueberry along with similar berries, the huckleberry and the bilberry. Cranberries are classified into two categories, the North American and Northern European. They were originally called craneberries by early English settlers to America,  due to their flowers resembling cranes and their long necks..They grow in sandy wet soil,namely Massachusetts and south western New Jersey where Ocean Spray cranberry juice is manufactured. Anything with cranberries is a good thing. They're high in manganese, an essential mineral used in metabolism, growth and cancer fighting. They also have moderate amounts of vitamin C and fiber. .Cranberry juice  can also aid in healing urinary tract infections. Since they have a bitter taste , they do have to be processed with a lot of sugar. The berries have been made into juice since the late 1680's and were even served at a Harvard commencement dinner as early as 1803.Cranberries were bought and fresh until the 1930's.Ocean Spray and Cranberries Cooperatives came together to form the main distributor of cranberry products in the United  States.

Cranberries are not just relegated to Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can have them all year long. Fresh ones can be made into cranberry jelly. This is just a simple mix of them, sugar and water. The skins and pulp are then strained and the juice is reboiled with sugar . Its' then poured into sterilized jelly jars and sealed airtight with paraffin wax. For something a little less labor intensive try cranberry relish. This is a mix of fresh cranberries, tart green apples and orange slicesThese are ground with two cups of white, refined sugar. The relish  could be a great condiment after Thanksgiving, adding some zest to not only turkey but also chicken sandwiches too. Use the berries in an exotic chutney. This is like the relish but has allspice  cinnamon, clove and ginger added for zing. Brown sugar is used instead of regular for an earthier flavor.  Dried cranberries such Craisins are used in desserts too. They liven up regular oatmeal cookies and bring color to chocolate chip ones.Cranberry juice is the main ingredient in the tasty classic The Cape Codder, where it's mixed with vodka. Yet there are some yummy mocktails out there that work at any party. Blend it with sparkling grape juice and a few drops of maple syrup for a cranberry fizz. Start off your holiday parties with a cranberry lemonade punch . This is mixing the juice with freshly made lemonade and then adding seltzer for froth and bubble.

As traditional as they are cranberries can also be a fin addition to any meal or party. They're zingy and zesty, perfect for drinks and sides. Try them in relishes and chutnies , or use them in a fun toast to the holidays.

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