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Cranberries for the Holidays!

Updated on November 22, 2012
Wild Cranberries
Wild Cranberries | Source

Well, Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, and what haven’t I talked about yet that most people want to have for the end of the year? Cranberry related items!

This is a relatively easy topic, as when I was growing up, I had a wonderful pond for ice skating directly behind the house, which was also a host to wild cranberries. My mother would make cranberry relish and a form of cranberry sauce for the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s feasts. It was a wonderful bounty!

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How to Grow Cranberries

Cranberries can’t be grown in the garden due to their finicky nature—a proper pH of 4.5, wet conditions under 25 degrees F, acid water, and good drainage. The cranberry capitals of the world are the state of Wisconsin and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

If you have these ideal conditions, plant your cuttings in the spring. Soil should be a three to four inch layer of sand atop peat. Or you can plant in April with cuttings eight inches apart. When they root, the cuttings will send out runners, just like strawberries. If they’re not protected, these young plants will be killed by frost, so their natural protection is flooding. Cranberries will do fine under water, even in winter, but if the water turns to thick ice and is frozen for too long, it can smother them. It is best to break up the ice periodically and drain off some of the water. We used to trench the pond and allow it to simply flow off elsewhere. It takes about three years for the plants to fruit. To me, it is worth it, for you just can’t beat that wonderful, fresh and tart taste.

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Sweet Dried Cranberry AKA “Craisins"

Saute the cranberries in brown sugar and butter until skins “break.” Add a bit of honey, then stir. The broken skin allows the sweet additions to permeate the fruit. Then dehydrate in the sun, a dehydrator, or an oven on low. Be prepared to use a number of cranberries for this project, as they are tiny dehydrated.

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Cranberry Juice

Cook a pound of cranberries in a quart of water until soft. Crush and drain through cheesecloth for the clear juice.

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Cranberry Ketchup

Wash and pick over about 2 ½ pounds cranberries. Cover with vinegar and cook until they burst, then force them through a sieve. Add 2 2/3 cups sugar, a tablespoon cinnamon, and one tsp. ground cloves. Return to heat and simmer until thick. Pour in hot sterilized jars and seal. Give this a try with your roast turkey!

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Cranberry Sauce

Combine 12 ounces of cranberries, 3/4 cup orange juice, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup white sugar, and as an optional ingredient 2 ounces of gold rum in a saucepan. Cook on medium-high for 15-20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has reduced, while stirring occasionally. Don't worry, you'll hear the cranberries popping. Remove from heat and serve. You can make this a day or two in advance, if you wish. This takes 17 minutes and yields two cups.

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Cranberry Relish

Combine a cup of sugar with a cup of water and bring to a boil. Add 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries and a tsp.of orange zest. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cool, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Between prep work and cook time, it takes 20 minutes, and serves eight.

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    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      So true, Rajesh, so true...

    • profile image

      Rajesh 2 years ago

      Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving (my foitrvae holiday), falling leaves, pumpkin patch visits, the cool breeze in the air, time to wear cute boots again what's not to love about the fall??

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Angelo, I have to agree with you about this time of year. I think many people like fall.

    • profile image

      Angelo 2 years ago

      Fall is my favorite of all seosnas so many resons I love the cool crisp weather. My favorite meal with my family has always been Thanksgiving dinner. The new colors from the trees.This is my favorite time to plant flowers in my garden.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Without a doubt, Ana. May you find beauty and wonderment in all that you do ad seek.

    • profile image

      Ana 2 years ago

      I've always loved fall, but this suemmr has been horribly dry and hot here in Arkansas. We've had 108 quite a few times this suemmr. I will be looking forward to those cool mornings and evenings. There is something about the cool air that sends tingles down my spine. Fall means that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are soon to follow.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Any time, Meldz. One can make ketchup with so many different things. Even though tomato is the most common, you can do a lot of different ketchups.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      They actually do grow under the water much of the time. The wild ones may be smaller, but they sure can taste better. Thanks, Tammy!

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      ignugent17 4 years ago

      Ketchup is interesting. Thanks for sharing the information of this wonderful fruit.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      I had no idea cranberries could grow under water. Excellent hub. The holidays would not be the same without cranberries. :)

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Alicia, you can make a ketchup with just about anything. I hope you like it when you make it. It's excellent with chicken and turkey.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I've never heard of cranberry ketchup before. Thank you for the recipe, Deb. I've got to try this!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This looks pretty good...try this and let me know what you think: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/cranberry-gelatin-sal...

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, kashmir. You just can't beat all this wonderful holiday fare.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Oh, sure, Letitia! This is all great stuff!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I just ate a plateful of food and a plateful of dessert, so I think I did rather well, Beckie! Oh, yes, craisins are wonderful!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Carol. I'm sure that many people will enjoy these recipes and use them.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      It isn't hard at all precy anza. Plus you'll know exactly how your juice was made.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Martin, there are so many things that you can do with them. I am glad that you enjoy this fruit. It is so full of great vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also benefit urinary tract infections, and quickly, too.

    • debbiepinkston profile image

      Debbie Pinkston 4 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      A very timely Hub! Thank you! I plan to use some of these ideas for Christmas. Do you have a good cranberry gelatin dessert/salad recipe?

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great hub and interesting information on how to grow cranberries . I love “Craisins" and cranberry juice and sauce .

      Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

    • profile image

      LetitiaFT 4 years ago

      Cranberry ketchup! Glad I heard about this just in time to try it!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      The ketchup and relish are ingenious. What a helpful addition for stretching the Thanksgiving tastes.

      My favorite are "craisins."

      Enjoy your holiday, my friend.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I particularly enjoyed learning how to make cranraisins..We love them and would love to try the fresh version. And all the other cranberry recipes are great. Why not take advantage of this healthful fruit. Voting Up and sharing.

    • precy anza profile image

      precy anza 4 years ago from USA

      Thanks for this! :) We used to buy Cranberry juice. I don't know but this past few days they taste sweeter to me. Then I've been seeing cranberries and thought of maybe making my own juice instead. But mind says maybe not. Then reading this, I'm going to try and make my own cranberry juice. ^-^' Voted up and shared!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      God bless the cranberry. They came into my life late. Maybe that's why I love cranberry anything so much. Thank you