Silly Food Facts
The Pilgrims were certainly familiar with cranberries. In the 1640s, Roger Williams described these wild berries, calling them “bearberries” since bears liked to eat them. By 1663, a Pilgrim cookbook included a recipe for cranberry sauce. Cranberries are among the few fruits native to North America, and the first time they were commercially grown was in Massachusetts in 1816. It’s no surprise that this state is still a major cranberry producer, along with Wisconsin.
Why Our Bodies Love It
Cranberries provide fiber, vitamin C, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. They have an intriguing anti-adhesion property, which helps prevent plaque formation on teeth and may reduce bacterial infections of the urinary system. Studies are being conducted to see if cranberries could help with kidney stones. These tiny berries have lots of potential!
Care and Picking
How does a cranberry grow … on a tree? a bush? a vine? They grow on evergreen vines, but not in the typical home garden. Nearly all cranberries are grown in huge commercial operations in a bog—that’s a shallow, sandy bed with a perimeter dyke to hold water at harvest time. Once the berries ripen to a dark red, the bog is flooded, and the floating cranberries are scooped or pumped out. Watch what happens in a cranberry harvest:
Tips and Warnings
Only 5% of cranberries are sold raw; most become juice or sauce. Your lips will pucker if you eat raw cranberries—they are extremely tart! Watch out for cranberry juice cocktail: so much sugar is added that it is sweeter than soda. When purchasing raw cranberries, pick those that are shiny and plump. Yes, a ripe cranberry will bounce when dropped! If you are a gardener who likes a challenge, it is possible to grow your own cranberries.
Allrecipe’s most popular recipes with cranberries