Cranberries are one of those superfoods because of their high vitamin content and antioxidants. They are a low shrub (only about 2 to 8 inches high) but send out vines that can be as long as 7 feet. They have evergreen type leaves and bloom with pink flowers that are pollinated by bees. Closely related to blueberries, they grow in the northern areas of the United States in fields with shallow water tables. They don’t grow in bogs but the field is flooded when the berries are ripe. Since the berries are quite buoyant, they will float to the top of the water for easier harvesting.
Native Americans used the fruit to treat bladder and kidney diseases and early settlers ate them for stomach complaints, blood disorders, and scurvy. Now we know they are good to combat uterine tract infections (UTI). There are many studies ongoing and one reports that in studying obese participants, a single daily dose of low calorie cranberry beverage (with some plant compounds added) improved blood sugar, reduced inflammation, and resulted in higher HDL levels.
Cranberries are tart to sour tasting but when combined with maple syrup or other sweeteners are very delightful. Once you have washed them, pour boiling water over them until you hear them pop. You can then put them in a dehydrator or in an oven. Using the oven method, heat the oven to 350. When it has been at that temperature for 10 minutes, turn it off, placing the cranberries on a parchment lined cookie sheet and leave them overnight. Then you can incorporate them into granola or other dishes.
Here are two easy recipes that are great for the fall.
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- 1 orange with the peel ON
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Slice the very edge root ends off of the orange, just until you see the flesh. Leave the rest of the skin ON the orange and slice it into 8 pieces.
- Place the fresh cranberries, orange slices and sugar in your food processor and process to the desired degree of chunkiness. The more you pulse, the smoother the mixture becomes. Be cautious that you don’t end up with mush.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve (it tastes best after being in the fridge for at least an hour) or for up to 1 week.
- Just before serving, add some small chopped nuts for a little crunch.
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 stick butter
- 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
- ½ cup milk (more or less to create the consistency of cottage cheese)
- ½ cup dried cranberries (craisins)
Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut butter into the dry mixture so it looks like pie crust.
Add in this order:
Mix well. Add milk to combine.
Add cranberries making sure they are well distributed.
Form into drop biscuits and bake on a cookie sheet at 425 for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown on top. Makes 12 large biscuits. (May need 2 sheet trays)