Cranberries: Everything You Want to Know

Cranberry season is on its way—soon to hit the Thanksgiving, New Year’s, and other holiday tables. While we love a good cranberry sauce, the flurry of fall cranberry treats begs the question: How much do you really know about this superfood?

What are the health benefits?
Cranberries are widely known to help promote urinary tract health since the turn of the century. While that isn’t an issue that affects everyone, they also are rich in antioxidants and can act as an immunity booster.

In 2015, a study about microbiota and cardiometabolic health found that eating cranberries has several benefits when it comes to your gut including being an anti-inflammatory, protective microbiota and improving immune function as well as metabolism.

Wet, Dried, Soaked or Fresh
Cranberries come in multiple ways—dried cranberries are often used as a quick snack or topping while fresh cranberries are great in baking. While those seem like wildly different uses, cranberries are one of only a few foods that you can substitute fresh and dried quite easily.

Recipe calls for fresh cranberries and you only have the dried version? Rehydrate your cranberries by soaking them in water for 20 to 30 minutes. Don’t have the time? Use dried cranberries out of the package and simply use ¾ the amount of fresh berry!

Dried cranberries are a bit more of a challenge, but if you find yourself wanting to dehydrate your fresh cranberries, simply turn your oven on the lowest setting for about 8 hours.

Creative Uses for Cranberries
There’s no such thing as too many cranberries at the end of picking season, but if you get stuck with what to do here are a few ideas to try:

  • Freeze cranberry sorbet for an after-dinner snack.
  • Add it as a secondary flavor for pies and baked goods. Note: Apple, banana, and pumpkin complement cranberry well.
  • Create a syrup to top pancakes, waffles and more.
  • Get creative with a sweet harvest salsa.

How are cranberries grown?
For an interesting conversation starter, it’s always fun to challenge people to answer: How are cranberries grown? Sure, you have probably seen the men in weighers standing in a bog but how many of us really know why?

Cranberry crops are flooded for most of their harvest cycle. First, fields are flooded in the winter so ice can provide insulation and prevent frost. Then, the vines that cranberries grow on can sprawl and produce through spring. In fall, farmers will flood the area again and shake off any ripe cranberries, allowing them to be wet harvested. While most bogs are manmade, which allows farmers to have more control over the environment, there are still some traditional bogs used to this day.

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