Cranberries are in season now! Cranberries are called America’s Original Superfruit by the USA’s Cranberry Marketing Committee. Native Americans used cranberries as a staple as early as 1550, by 1620 the Pilgrims had learned how to use them from the Native Americans. By 1683 cranberry juice was made by the settlers.
Cranberries add color, refreshing taste, and nutrients to foods and beverages. Available in many convenient forms, from fresh or dried to juices and sauces. Cranberries are an ingredient you can use the entire year. Add fresh cranberries to breakfast breads, toss dried cranberries into a salad or on hot cereal, or mix up a refreshing beverage with one of the many forms of cranberry juices.
Check out the following tips and information from Lisa Franzen-Castle, Nebraska Extension Nutrition Specialist on buying, storing, and adding cranberries to a healthful eating plan in new and delicious ways.
Tips for Getting Creative with Cranberries:
- Nutrition and health. Cranberries are fat-free, cholesterol-free, sodium-free, and a good source of Vitamin C and fiber. Cranberries flavonoid and phytonutrient content have antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits. They have been shown to promote cardiovascular health by reducing LDL cholesterol, maintaining or improving HDL cholesterol, and improving vascular function.
- Forms and availability. The peak harvest season for fresh cranberries is October through December. During other times of the year look for juice, sauce or dried forms.
- Selection and Storage tips. Choose fresh cranberries that are full, plump, firm and dark red or yellowish-red. Fresh cranberries should be stored in the refrigerator, for about three to four weeks. Cranberries freeze very well, either whole or sliced.
- Cooking with cranberries. Before using, rinse fresh or frozen cranberries and throw out any that are shriveled or bruised. Cranberries are good for both cooking and eating raw. If raw cranberries are too tart, cook them in a pot of water for 10 minutes on medium heat or until the cranberries pop. If cooked longer, they will taste bitter.
- Getting culinary with cranberries. Cranberries are versatile and can be combined with many other flavors. Mix cranberry juice with other juices. Dried cranberries can be added to nuts, trail mix, granola, oatmeal, or even chicken salad. Fresh or dried cranberries can be added to many breads. They also work well in pies, cobblers, chutneys, salsas, and relishes.
For more information, contact your local Nebraska Extension Office or on the web at: food.unl.edu University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension In Our Grit, Our Glory.
PO Box 248
Trenton, Nebraska 69044
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