Sometimes I feel just a little bit sad for winter fruit. Sure, I love my apples in the fall, and those first oranges in the winter make my mouth water just thinking about them. Bananas.. meh. I could take them or leave them. I believe they were put on this earth for making banana bread and a few other desserts. The problem with winter fruit, is that they just go on, and on, and on until you can’t eat another apple, orange or banana… until strawberry season. The exception to the winter fruit problem is cranberries- such a wonderful and underutilized fruit with such a short harvest and eating season.
Many years ago, I had a part time job for Ocean Spray Cranberries. I had quit my perfectly good, fairly high paying marketing job that I hated, to go back to grad school for four years to become an RD, AFTER I had my first child. Don’t ask what I was thinking, but it all worked out in the end. Anyway, I needed a fun, low stress, part-time job while in school, and I found myself working as a Consumer Affairs Representative (AKA phone question answerer, complaint handler, coupon mailer, etc) for Ocean Spray. I also had the chance to work with their test kitchen staff, and I learned so much about cranberries, and the many ways to use them, so you, dear reader, are in luck!
A few facts about cranberries:
- Cranberries are native to North American, and most are grown in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington State.
- They do not grow under water, but in sandy bogs, which are often flooded in the late fall for wet harvesting – like the one on the Ocean Spray commercials.
- North American cranberries are only harvested from mid-September through October BUT they can be frozen for more than a year, so when you see them, pick up several bags for your freezer!
- Fresh cranberries bounce because they have air pockets inside. After harvesting, the freshest ones are separated with a bounce board separator.
- Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, and they really can help prevent urinary tract infections. They contain compounds that prevent bacteria from growing and adhering to the urinary tract walls.
- Cranberries got their name, because it was thought that the cranberry’s flower resembles a crane
What do you think?
Never, ever eat cranberry sauce from a can! It’s so easy to make, just read the directions on the package. Personally, I prefer uncooked cranberry relish over cooked cranberry sauce. I adapted this recipe from Ocean Spray’s famous Cranberry Orange Relish recipe, which is one of their test kitchen’s original classics, and one of my family’s favorites.
- 1 -12 oz bag fresh cranberries rinsed
- 1 whole orange with peel, washed, quartered, any seeds removed
- 1 medium sweet apple peeled, cored and quartered
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 1/2 cup sugar
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until relish is evenly chopped.
Refrigerate for 2-3 weeks, or freeze.
It’s not just for Thanksgiving! Try this relish stirred into oatmeal, spread on a turkey sandwich, spooned on top of pancakes or waffles, mixed into yogurt, as a base for a vinaigrette, or on top of grilled salmon.
Have you ever seen a cranberry bog?