The cranberry can be traced back to the current region of Massachusetts and was first used as a food source by the Native Americans (well, technically bears... but four legged animals aside..). Native Americans used the bounty of their land in many ways - and this beautiful berry was not just a source of nutritious food, but also medicine and dye for blankets and clothing. The berry was ultimately introduced to the English settlers and eventually found its way to the first Thanksgiving dinner tables.
Since their discovery, cranberries have become an important crop in North America with cranberry bogs covering thousands and thousands of acres across Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Washington, and Oregon as well as the lower part of several Canadian provinces. They are one of only three fruits native to North America that are commercially harvested (the other two are grapes and blueberries) - making the cranberry truly the original American super-fruit.
In autumn, when the berries ripen to a deep red colour, the small shrubs are flooded and a harvester is driven through the bog to remove the fruit. The majority of cranberries are immediately processed into cranberry juice or cranberry sauce and only a small fraction are kept fresh and delivered to markets and stores.
Almost 20% of cranberries consumed by Americans each year are consumed during the week of American Thanksgiving. We think that's a shame! Aside from being a wonderful addition to the dinner table, cranberry juice is a fabulous addition to sodas, cocktails and even decor. Cranberries make for some of the most beautiful home accents during autumn and winter and we regularly keep fresh cranberries on hand to heap in a glass bowl for our dinner table centerpiece.
Nutritional Benefits of Cranberries
There are a number of potential health benefits found by incorporating cranberries into your diet, although as with many health benefits - these claims are often challenged. However, there is no challenging the fact they're a very good source of Vitamin C, Manganese and Fiber, and a good source of Vitamin E, Vitamin K and Copper. Of all the claims - from fighting Urinary Tract Infections, lowering your risk of cancer, reducing inflammation, and reducing risk of cardiovascular disease - we'll just say this - any produce with such rich colour is bound to be wise to incorporate into a healthy diet.
Cranberries All Year Long
Chef Joanie, our chef who lives in the fabulous New England region, is home to one of the most abundant regions in the world for cranberries. As such, it's no surprise she has many ideas on how to use them - from Cranberry Smoothies to Cranberry Margaritas to Cranberry Cookies for the holidays. One of her personal New England Favourites? Cranberry Ketchup! She suggests putting this on Turkey Burgers, using as a dip with Sweet Potato Fries - and her favourite - leftover Thanksgiving dinner turkey sandwiches, which are called Turkey Gobblers in New England (a turkey gobbler consists of turkey breast, stuffing, and cranberry ketchup). We suggest doing all three (and more!).
Cranberry Ketchup Recipe
- Chef Joanie
2 cups Cranberries
1/2 Chopped Onion
1/2 cup Water
1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp 5 Spice Powder
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
In a medium sized sauce pot, cook cranberries, chopped onion, water, granulated sugar and brown over over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Puree the mixture with 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard, 5 spice power and salt. Let cool and transport yourself to New England in Autumn.
Turkey Cooking Class
Turkey is a fabulous poultry that should shine all year long. Skype Chef Joanie into your home kitchen and learn essentials on how to cook turkey including all the traditional Thanksgiving sides.
Learn about the Turkey Cooking Class >
Lobster Roll Cooking Class
This succulent sandwich is a lifestyle in New England. Let Chef Joanie join you in your kitchen to teach you how to make a traditional Lobster Roll (starting from a whole lobster) and all the traditional sides.
Check out the Lobster Roll Cooking Class >