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What's all the Craze About Cranberries For the Holidays? Cranberry Facts and Great Recipes.

Updated on April 11, 2018

Find out why we have cranberries on our holiday tables, and get some great recipes!

Since there's no way that we can communicate with our quadruple-great grandmothers, we'll probably never know the full reasons why that we always have cranberry sauce sitting at our tables during the holidays. But based on the facts that I've come to know about cranberries, I think I can give some very fair assumptions.

Unlike other berries that are harvested earlier in the year, cranberries are picked in the fall, between September and December. This would explain why they seem to pop up during the holiday season.

It is rumored that the cranberry was a very important part of Native American Indian culture, and they called it "ibimi" which means literally, "bitter berry." They used the berry for its medicinal properties and its lovely dark juice was used for dye. The actual fruit was mashed and mixed with venison to make pemmican, then eaten for food. It was the colonists that dubbed it "crane-berry," because of the bent stalk of the cranberry blossom which resembled that of a crane bird. Thus evolved the modern name, cranberry.

This being said, it's very likely that cranberries showed up on the very first Thanksgiving table. We could assume that the tradition originated here, and that our ancestors have passed it down to us from this time period.

Another possible reason why cranberries may show up traditionally at this time of year is because they are very high in vitamin C, which helps fight off colds and other sicknesses that are common this time of year. Our quadruple-great grandmas may have put cranberries on the table to keep her loved ones from getting sick. Then, by not knowing her reasons, our triple-greats may have mistaken it for tradition, and hereby passed it down to us.

Whatever the reason, it is a tasty tradition to keep alive. If you aren't too crazy about cranberry sauce alone, why not try one of the mouth-watering recipes below. You can still keep the cranberry sauce tradition while eating something that you actually enjoy!

Cranberry Harvest Video

Did You Know?

The way to tell if a cranberry is of good quality is to see if it bounces? If it bounces, you've got a great berry!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Holiday Stuffing

Holiday Appetizer, Cranberry Wraps

Great Recipes Using Cranberries!

Cranberry Chicken

1 - 16 oz can of whole cranberry sauce, 1 - 8 oz bottle of Russian salad dressing with honey, 1 envelope of regular onion soup mix, 1 - 21/2 to 3 lb of cut up chicken, hot cooked rice (optional), fresh rosemary (optional)

In a bowl, combine cranberry sauce, salad dressing and soup mix. Rinse chicken; pat dry with paper towels. (Skin may be removed if desired). Arrange pieces in one layer in a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish. Pour cranberry mixture over chicken pieces. Cover and chill the in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Bake, uncovered, in a 300° degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the chicken is fully cooked. Stir glaze and spoon over chicken. Serve on a platter with hot, cooked rice and garnish with fresh rosemary, if desired.

Cranberry and Cherry Salad

1 regular size can of whole cranberry sauce (stir up), 1 large box of raspberry Jello, 1 cup of hot water, 1 large can of drained crushed pinapple (save juice to use later), 1 - 21 oz can of prepared cherry pie filling, 1 cup of chopped nuts

Boil water and stir in Jello. Add saved pineapple juice. Stir in the whole cranberry sauce. Stir in pie filling. Lastly, stir in pineapple and nuts. Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving.

Cranberry Nut Bread

1 cup of chopped nuts, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 cup of cranberries. Mix and set aside.

1 cup of sugar, 4 1/2 tsp. of baking powder, 3 cups of flour, 1 tsp. of salt. Sift together.

3 Tbs. of grated orange rind. Add to flour mixture.

1 cup of milk, 1 slightly beaten egg, 3 Tbs. of melted butter, 1/2 cup of walnuts or pecans. Blend into flour mixture.

Fold cranberry mixture into flour mixture. Pour into a greased 9 x 5 x 2 3/4 loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 60 minutes.

Cranberry Pecan Muffins

3 cups of sifted flour, 2 tsp. of grated lemon rind, 4 1/2 tsp. of baking powder, 2 eggs, 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1 cup of milk, 1 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 cups of chopped cranberries, 1/2 cup of butter flavored shortening, 1 cup of chopped pecans

Combine cranberries and 1/4 cup of the sugar and set aside. Sift dry ingredients, and cut in shortening. Stir in nuts and lemon rind. Beat eggs until light, add milk, then add to flour mixture. Mix just until moist. Fold in cranberry mixture, and fill greased muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes. Makes 2 1/2 dozen muffins.


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