With the holiday season approaching, colorful cranberries will soon make an appearance on Thanksgiving tables around the country. Nutritionally speaking, cranberries are a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and phytonutrients. Small but mighty, cranberries are considered to be a super fruit because of their deep red pigment that contains nutrients that may prevent heart disease, cancer and age-related cognitive changes. Cranberries are also well known for their unique compounds that may inhibit bladder infections.
Fresh cranberries are only harvested in the fall and are typically available fresh from September to January. When stored properly in the refrigerator in their original plastic, fresh cranberries will be fine to use for up to a month. Fresh cranberries can also be frozen for up to a year. Simply wash and seal in an airtight plastic bag. It is a good idea to mark the date on the bag prior to freezing.
Whether made from fresh, canned or dried cranberries, cranberry sauce has become an important component of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. For a fresh easy cranberry sauce, try this recipe. And, if there happens to be cranberry sauce leftover, use it for a delicious spread on a Thanksgiving turkey sandwich.
While fresh cranberries are delicious and versatile, cranberries are also available frozen, canned, and dried. When purchasing packaged cranberry products, check the nutrition facts label as the tart fruit may contain added ingredients, such as sugar or other sweeteners.
FYI – When preparing cranberry sauce, fresh and dried cranberries can be used interchangeably with some simple modifications and a little math:
- For every 3/4 cup of dried cranberries use 1 cup of whole, fresh cranberries. Dried cranberries are naturally more concentrated than fresh cranberries because most of the water in them has been removed.
- If swapping out dry cranberries for fresh, add 1/8 cup of sugar for each cup of fresh cranberries used. This serves as replacement for the sugar that is already contained in dried cranberries.
- If using fresh cranberries instead of dried, reduce the amount of water in the recipe by a 1/4 cup. This will make up for the extra liquid added by the fresh cranberries.
- Once you get the cranberry substitutions out of the way, follow the recipe as outlined. However, if the recipe calls for dried cranberries to be added at the end of the cooking process, add the fresh cranberries earlier to allow them time to cook and blend in with the recipe.
For some people, making cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving is as simple as popping the top off a can. If using canned cranberries, get creative. Fancy it up by stirring in some of the following add-ins to a can of whole or jellied cranberry sauce:
- 2 tbsp. of orange juice plus 1 tsp. of finely grated orange peel
- ½ can of mandarin oranges
- ½ cup pineapple
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ cup chopped dried apricots
- ½ cup toasted pecans
Be sure to enjoy some cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving and take part in one of the holiday’s oldest meal traditions. If you are looking for ease and convenience, simply stop by the prepared foods at McCaffrey’s and pick up some homemade delicious cranberry sauce at the prepared foods department. You will not be disappointed!