November 23 – National Eat a Cranberry Day

Posted on November 23, 2015

When you hear the word “bog,” do you think of muddy, swampy land, deadly quicksand, and the pungent smells of rotting plants?

Or do you think of still pools of water gone bright red with ripe cranberries?

Cranberries grow on dwarf shrub plants that grow in wetlands, sometimes partly submerged in water. The wetlands aren't just any wet place – for cranberries, the bogs must be acidic. The flower of this plant tends to bend toward the ground and looks a bit like the head, neck, and bill of a crane – and that is where the name cranberry comes from.

In order to make harvesting easier, cranberry growers flood the bog with more water so that the vines are entirely submerged, and a harvester is driven through the beds to remove fruit from the vines. Released from the plant, the cranberries float at the top of the pools and can be easily sucked up via a hose.

Actually, there is another, less common, method of dry harvesting, which is how most of the cranberries used to sell fresh in bags are harvested. 

The more usual wet harvesting method is fine for making cranberry juice and cranberry sauce, which is how 95% of cranberries are used. 

Some people prefer cranberry sauce (above).
and others prefer cranberry jelly (below).

And then there is my favorite: dried, sweetened cranberries in Trader Joe's cereal.

Here are some of the favorite cranberry recipes my family uses at this time of year:

We make an uncooked cranberry relish rather than a cooked cranberry sauce, to go along with our turkey dinner at Thanksgiving time. It's really yummy!

1 bag fresh cranberries 
1 seedless orange, washed 
Use a grinder to grind up the cranberries and the orange, rind and all. Add sugar to taste. Be conservative with the sugar at first, and let the relish sit overnight and then taste again. If you need more sugar, you can add a bit more. (Just remember, you can always add more, but you cannot take sugar out!)

Also, this festive salad is great for holiday meals:

romaine lettuce in bite-sized pieces (one large head or two bags)
1 pear, cored and cubed 
1 apple, cored and cubed 
1 cup cashews 
¼ cup dried cranberries 
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Dressing - blend together:
½ cup sugar
1/3 - cup lemon juice
2 tsp. finely chopped onion
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. salt
2/3 cup oil
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds 

On “Eat a Cranberry Day,” remember that you can enjoy many cranberry products and recipes, but you can't eat raw cranberries – they are hard and very sour!

Also on this date:

Dr. Who Day

Plan ahead:

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