It may be the season of all things pumpkin, but don’t forget one of the most important fruits on Thanksgiving: the cranberry!
According to The Cranberry Institute, a not-for-profit organization that works to support the success of cranberry growers and the industry as a whole, the cranberry is a native North American fruit with the highest production coming from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington. Cranberries are grown in low-lying beds known as bogs or marshes and are harvested in the fall months — typically September and October.
While many people believe that cranberries are grown in water, that’s not the case. Water is only introduced into the growing process when it’s time to harvest as well as during the winter months to protect the vines.
There are two ways to harvest cranberries: wet and dry harvest. The Cranberry Marketing Committee describes wet harvesting as a common method in which the bogs are flooded with water. A harvesting machine is then used to remove the cranberries from the vine, where air chambers within the fruit’s center allow them to float on top of the water, making them easier to collect. A small percentage of cranberries are dry harvested, or picked directly from the vine.
Cranberries aren’t only delicious as a side dish on your holiday dinner table, but they’re also full of nutrients and a great addition to your everyday diet. Their flavanoid and phytonutrient content have both antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits. While many attribute the health benefits of cranberries specifically to the urinary tract, it’s also believed that they have anti-cancer properties and can also improve cardiovascular health.
There are many creative ways to incorporate cranberries into your diet. Due to their high acidity and low sugar content, cranberries work well in both sweet and savory dishes. So try something new with them this holiday season.
Baked Brie with Chipotle Cranberry Sauce
Courtesy of The Cranberry Marketing Committee and
The Wanderlust Kitchen
This sweet and spicy appetizer will be a hit for any dinner party all year-round.
• 1 (16-ounce) round brie
• 2 cups whole cranberries, rinsed
• 1/2 cup water
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 small dried chipotle pepper, de-seeded and minced
• 2 tablespoons honey
• Zest from one lemon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the brie on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the pre-heated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until soft. Meanwhile, place the cranberries, water, sugar and chipotle pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, until the berries have softened and the sauce is thick. Top the baked brie with the honey, followed by the cranberry mixture and lemon zest. Serve with an assortment of nuts, bread and sliced apples for dipping.