Leaving Turkey Aside

by Mark R. Vogel

When most people think of cranberries they inevitably envision them next to their Thanksgiving turkey, even though most cranberries are utilized for juice production.  Indeed, it takes over 4,000 berries to fabricate one gallon of juice.  As we shall see, the type-cast cranberry has a multitude of other uses aside from playing sidekick to the driest meat on the planet.

Centuries ago, the Lenni Lenape Indians, a branch of the Algonquins, were harvesting cranberries in what is now the state of New Jersey.  The Native Americans, (who introduced cranberries to the early settlers), boiled cranberries with maple syrup and bear fat.  The GardenState has long been associated with cranberries even though it is third in production behind Massachusetts and Wisconsin. 

            Cranberries grow wild in northern Europe and North America.  Henry Hall, a Cape Cod Massachusetts farmer, is credited with being the first cultivator of cranberries.  He noticed the berries were larger and juicer when sand from nearby dunes blew over the vines.  This led to the development of the sandy bogs so vital to cranberry agriculture.  When the berries ripen, the bogs are flooded and the buoyant cranberries can be easily collected. The first such bogs in New Jersey were developed in OceanCounty in 1840.   

            Cranberries are available year round but are harvested between October and December, and naturally are more plentiful then.  White cranberries, used primarily for juice, are harvested a few weeks earlier than their crimson brethren.  Fresh cranberries are normally sold in bags but they are also canned and frozen.  Only ten percent of the crop is sold fresh; canned cranberry sauce and juice make up most of the rest.   Cranberries are firm, as compared to other types of berries and hence, are more likely to be in good condition. Nevertheless with fresh, bagged cranberries, remove those that are soft, bruised, or discolored.  Although they can probably be kept longer, use refrigerated cranberries within two weeks.  Cranberries are high in Vitamin C and purported to possess cancer fighting properties and prevent urinary tract infections.  Cranberries contain hippuric acid which prevents bacterial growth in the bladder.

            Aside from the extremely hackneyed cranberry sauce, cranberries are used in a multitude of other concoctions including all sorts of baked goods, soups, salads, stuffings, chutneys, and ice cream to name a few.  Cranberries are quite tart and are usually mixed with sugar or other fruits to provide some sweetness.  Often they are cooked in sweetened water or fruit juice.  Dried cranberries are usually sweetened and are a good choice for baked preparations. 




12 oz. fresh cranberries

3 small oranges, peeled, seeded, and sectioned

1 small red onion

Chopped cilantro, (leaves and stems), to taste

2 jalapenos

½ cup honey

3 tablespoons lime juice

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt to taste


            Place the cranberries in a food processor and process them until finely chopped.  Empty the cranberries into a separate bowl.  Place the oranges, onion, cilantro and jalapenos in the food processor and finely chop.  Mix with the cranberries and the remaining ingredients.  As like any other salsa, serve it with tortilla chips or spread it over grilled pork chops.




2 large batches of broccoli, stems removed

1 pint chicken stock

4 oz. pine nuts

1 ½ cups dried cranberries

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste


            Place the broccoli and chicken broth in a 12 inch skillet.  Cover and simmer until the broccoli is tender.  Remove the broccoli and mix with the remaining ingredients.  Substitute almonds for the pine nuts if you like.




1 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped

½ cup white cranberry juice

1 ½ cups heavy cream

1 cup horseradish

1 small onion, minced

Salt and pepper to taste


            Beat the cream until fully whipped.  Mix in the remaining ingredients and chill.




1 cup fresh cranberries

6 cups apple cider

2 cups cranberry juice

½ cup brown sugar

6 cloves

½ teaspoon allspice

3 cinnamon sticks

4 orange slices

3 lemon slices

3 lime slices


            Coarsely chop the cranberries in a food processor.  Bring the cranberries and remaining ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan.  Simmer for ten minutes.  Turn off the heat, cover, and allow the cider to steep for another ten minutes



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