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Cranberries on a Roll
It’s harvest time for cranberries, and this year’s is a bumper crop. Buy fresh cranberries now because they’re gone after Thanksgiving. Eat cranberries in jellies and jams, in muffins, on cereal, in a vinaigrette or sauce, and as a compote or a sorbet. They complement so many foods.
An All American
The cranberry is one of three fruits native to North America (Concord grapes and blueberries are the others.) Native peoples used cranberries as food, dye, medicine, and in religious ceremonies.
Contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow in water. They are grown on sandy bogs or marshes. Because cranberries float, most bogs are flooded at harvest time to make it easy to pick the berries. Most are harvested between September and October. Cranberries are primarily grown five states -- Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.
Only a few fruits have gained the commercial classification of "superfruit". Super fruits include blueberries, pomegranates, acai berries, and cranberries. Cranberries have been long valued for their antibacterial and anti-adhesion properties. That’s why cranberries are used to prevent and treat urinary tract infections (UTI). Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins (PACs), which inhibit bacteria (both antibiotic susceptible and resistant strains) from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. This anti-adhesion effect can last up to 10 hours and so two servings of cranberry juice, taken at split intervals, may be more beneficial than one. The National Kidney Foundation® suggests drinking 10-ounces of cranberry juice cocktail everyday to help prevent UTIs.
Fully ripened cranberries are a rich source of other flavonoids and other compounds known as polyphenols that research has shown provide a variety of health benefits. Red fruits, like cranberries, contain lycopene (important for healthy eyes), ellagic acid (an anti-carcinogen in the gastrointestinal tract), quercetin (prevents LDL cholesterol oxidation), and hesperidin (improves blood vessel function). And those are just a few of the benefits they provide.
Good, ripe cranberries will bounce, which is why they are sometimes called "bounceberries." Preserve washed fresh cranberries in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator for several weeks or in the freezer for up to 1 year. Use frozen cranberries in recipes without thawing. They are easier to chop or grind before they thaw. Cranberries are can be dried in a warm oven with the door ajar and rehydrated by soaking them in any liquid for an hour or so. Cranberries are also available in the form of sauce and juice which are sweetened with natural or artificial sugars. Some folks who like it tart prefer to drink unsweetened cranberry juice.
Here are three yummy cranberry-based recipes from Calorie Count's Recipe Browser: