It is believed that Native Americans shared the berries with the starving Pilgrims in Massachusetts and this may explain part of it's appearance on our Thanksgiving table.
Many folks are familiar with the use of cranberries as a treatment for urinary tract infections. A recent study, published this year, 2009, in the Scandinavian Journal of Nephrology and Urology, found that "daily consumption of concentrated cranberry juice can significantly prevent the recurrence of symptomatic UTIs in children." It is important to note that this would be 100% cranberry juice with no added sugar, not cranberry juice cocktails which tend to be more popular.
It is unfortunate that cranberries don't play a larger role in our diet. These luscious red berries are high in fiber, a great source of vitamin C and also provide a lot of manganese and vitamin K. They are high in anthocyanins, anti-inflammatory antioxidants, and they appear to have health benefits ranging from improving cardiovascular health to improving brain function to helping fight H. pylori and E. coli bacteria in the body.
This year for Thanksgiving we're having our traditional cranberry orange sauce which everyone loves. Now that we live in Texas we're going to add a new tradition and make a cranberry salsa. I bought a large bag of cranberries and will keep the extra (they freeze really well) to use throughout the winter in cranberry muffins, cranberry scones, to use in salads, I even put some in oatmeal with maple syrup for a tangy breakfast treat.
If cranberry makes an appearance on your Thanksgiving table, try making your own sauce instead of purchasing the over-processed jellied mass they sell in cans, it's not a lot of effort and it's so much tastier.
Cranberry Orange Sauce
1 C. water
3/4 C. evaporated cane juice crystals
3 C. cranberries
1 orange chopped fine (I use a cuisinart)
generous pinch cinnamon
nutmeg (I use a nutmeg grater and shave several times so I don't have a measure for this)
bring the water and cane juice to a boil, stirring until crystals are dissolved
reduce to a simmer, add cranberries, orange, and spices
cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries pop
remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before serving
2 C. fresh cranberries
2 bell peppers
3 spring onions, minced
1/4 C. evaporated cane juice crystals
3/4 C. fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of one lime
generous pinch sea salt
1 t. crushed red pepper
Put cranberries and peppers into a food processor and chop well
put mixture into a bowl and add remaining ingredients
toss well and let sit at least 2 hours before serving for flavors to blend