Cranberries and the many ways to prepare them

Many people pass cranberries up in the grocery store not knowing what to do with them.

Cranberries are very popular this time of the year. Many people pass them up in the grocery store not knowing what to do with them. Did you know that Michigan grows cranberries?  According to the Michigan Ag Council, they are grown on about 280 acres throughout Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula, the lower part of the northern peninsula and Southwest Michigan. 

Cranberries are an excellent source of nutrition and vitamins like Vitamin C. Depending on how you prepare cranberries you could be helping prevent UTI’s, ulcers and gum disease! They also contain antioxidants that may protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer. For round-the-clock protection, snack or cook with a form of cranberries once a day.

When selecting fresh berries, they should be brightly colored, fully red or yellowish-red with a smooth, glossy and firm skin. Berries can be kept in the original packaging in the refrigerator for up to four weeks. They can also be frozen for up to one year. Do not refrigerate or freeze cranberries that are shriveled, soft or have blemishes, they should be discarded.

Different ways to use cranberries

Raw: In their raw state, cranberries are very tart and bland tasting. Adding them as fresh or dried to recipes adds color and texture. 

Preserving: Fresh cranberries can be preserved in home-canned items like Spicy Cranberry Salsa, Cranberry Orange Chutney and Cranberry Sauce. These items would make great gifts or add flavor to a meat dish or be a great side dish.

Dehydrating:  Cranberries can also be dried at home, offering a healthy snack or salad garnish.  

Take advantage of one of Michigan’s fresh products and enjoy something different this year. Whether you decide to enjoy fresh cranberries or preserve them, Michigan State University Extension suggests following simple food safety practices to get the optimal quality from your berries. These include keeping your work area clean, washing hands and working with clean cutting boards and knives.  

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