A must at all Thanksgiving dinners, cranberries are beginning to find their way into our pantries and freezers year round. This cheery little red fruit can add more than just zip to meals. It is high in fiber and vitamin C and contains just 25 calories per 1/2 cup of fresh berries. Cranberries are also low in sodium and are a source of Vitamins A & B, calcium, phosphorus, and iron. Packed full of antioxidants and other natural compounds cranberries promote health and wellness.
For many years healthy professionals have been recommending cranberries for prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs). It was long thought that this was due to the acidity of the cranberries themselves and its impact on the acidity of the urine that caused the benefit. Researchers now know differently. According to the Cranberry Institute, cranberries have a bacterial blocking activity due to their flavonoid content that actually prevents the adhesion of infection-causing bacteria. This bacteria-blocking activity makes cranberries effective for helping to prevent UTIs and other bacterial related conditions, potentially including gum disease and stomach ulcers. Note that cranberry products are known as a PREVENTATIVE measure and not a cure for UTIs.
Unlike other fruits, cranberries are usually considered too tart to eat alone and are combined with other ingredients to make them palatable. Most cranberry juices have sweeteners added and dried cranberries are sweetened prior to drying.
Fresh whole cranberries are available in markets from September through December. These fresh berries will keep in the refrigerator for one month.
Freezing your own berries will make them last all year long. Sort out any bruised berries and store in an airtight freezer container. These berries do not need to be thawed, but should be washed just before use. They will maintain their quality for 9-12 months.
Sweetened dried cranberries will keep for up to 12 months in a cool dry place.
Use whole berries to chop and put in salads, muffins, pancakes and cranberry sauce or relish. Put dried berries in salads or eat as snacks.
To lower calories in cranberry relish and sauce, use Splenda in place of sugar.
By Cheryl Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University Extension
Cranberry Apple Sauce Recipe
8 apples, cored and quartered, with skin
6 ounces (1/2 bag) cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Splenda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup water
Place all items in crockpot and cook on low power all day until apples are soft. Mash apples and cranberries and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve this dish as a fruit side dish like apple sauce or serve for a nice light dessert. For more recipes and tips, visit:
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.