Monday, November 9, 2015

Star of the Week-Cranberries

Cranberries are an American native fruit and a favorite seasonal ingredient found in traditional holiday recipes. They were also a Native American staple. The berry helped Indians and colonists survive. Every schoolchild learns that the Pilgrims couldn't have survived life in the New World without the help of the Indians. The tribes taught them which crops to plant. They introduced them to corn and other nutritional mainstays. One of these, the American cranberry, is still part of the classic Thanksgiving feast.
The Algonquin, Chippewa, and Cree, among others, gathered wild cranberries where they could find them in what is now Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Wisconsin, all the way west to Oregon and Washington, and north to areas of British Columbia and Quebec. The berry was called sassamenesh (by the Algonquin) and ibimi (by the Wampanoag and Lenni-Lenape), which translates literally as "bitter" or "sour berries." Cranberries were used for everything from cooking to dyes for textiles to medicines.
The Native Americans ate cranberries as fresh fruit, dried the fruit and formed them into cakes to store, and made tea out of the leaves. The Inuktitut of eastern Canada used the cranberry leaves as a tobacco substitute. There were also a range of nonculinary uses for the berry. Cree boiled the fruit and used it to dye porcupine quills for clothing and jewelry. Chippewa used cranberries as bait to trap the snowshoe hare.
The nutritional power of the fruit cranberries are extremely high in antioxidants and are thought to help prevent heart disease. Iroquois and Chippewa used cranberries for an assortment of medicinal purposes.

Cranberry Trivia 
  • There are small pockets of air inside cranberries that cause them to bounce. Air also makes the berries float in water. 
  • There are approximately 440 cranberries in one pound.
  • Cranberries are 90 % water.
  • Fresh cranberries can be frozen up to one year in an airtight container.
  • Massachusetts is the leading producer of cranberries. 
  • Cranberries do not grow in water but on low running vines in sandy bogs and marshes.
  • Americans consume 5,062,500 gallons of jellied cranberry sauce every Thanksgiving. More than 94% of Thanksgiving dinners include some type of cranberry sauce.
Follow Ever Ready this week for a Cranberry Blitz
    Cranberry Orange Pound Cake
    Cook's notes: This moist cake is sure to be a crowd pleaser with bursts of tart cranberries and sweet orange icing. It shines as a brunch side or as a dessert for your holiday gatherings. The original recipe called for it being baked in 2 large loaf pans but I used a 13 x 9 pan. Recipe adapted from
    Cake Ingredients:
    • 1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp. regular cinnamon or 1/2 tsp. Saigon Cinnamon 
    • 2-1/2 cups fresh cranberries
    • 1 cup of softened butter
    • 1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
    • 2 TB. orange zest
    • 1/2 tsp. vanilla 
    • 3 large eggs at room temperature
    • 2-1/2 cups flour
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon or 1/2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
    • 3/4 cup buttermilk 
    Orange Glaze Ingredients:
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 2 TB. orange juice or fresh juice an orange
    • 1 TB. orange zest
    • 1 TB. milk
    • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 tsp. softened butter
    Cake Directions:
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 pan or 2 loaf pans.
    • Mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1 tsp. cinnamon. Add in cranberries and coat with cinnamon sugar mixture. Set aside. 
    • In a large bowl cream butter, sugar, vanilla and orange zest for 3 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time. Beat well after each addition.
    • In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients. Use a mixer on low speed and add dry ingredients alternatively with the buttermilk to the butter/sugar/orange zest/egg mixture.  
    • Fold in sugared/cinnamon cranberries.
    • If using a 13 x 9 pan bake at 30 minutes or when center comes clean using a wooden skewer and cranberries have popped. If using loaf pans check at 40 minutes. 
    • Add glaze after cake is cooled.
    Orange Glaze:
    Use a whisk and blend ingredients until smooth.  

    Fresh cranberries stored in the refrigerator are usually good for up to 2 weeks. It is suggested freezing them if you are not going to use them within two weeks. Cranberries freeze nicely and last up to one year.
    So when you need a cranberry fix off season stores buy cranberries buy in bulk when stores run specials. Place each bag in a freezer zip loc bag and store in freezer. 
    Cranberry Sauce with Dried Cherries 
    Cook's notes:This sauce is perfect accompaniment for any dinner. It's quite tasty served over turkey, chicken, pork or salmon and as basting sauce for grilled meats. It can be made a few days in advance and kept refrigerated. Don't skip the wine part. For some inexplicable reason it really enhances the sauce flavor :)

    • 12 oz. cran-cherry juice
    • 1 cup of water
    • 1 cup dark brown sugar
    • 2 large cinnamon sticks broken in half
    • 1/4 tsp. allspice
    • 2 TB. cornstarch-1/4 cup cran-cherry juice
    • 1-5 oz package dried tart cherries
    • 1-12 oz bag fresh cranberries
    • 1/4 cup dry red wine like a Merlot, Cabernet or Malbec


    • Whisk 2 TB. cornstarch into 1/4 cup cran-cherry juice and set aside
    • In a saucepan add 12 oz. cran-cherry juice, 1 cup of water, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon sticks
    • Bring mixture to boil over medium heat stirring till sugar is dissolved, add cherries and reserved cornstarch mixture and cook 2 minutes till slightly thickened 
    • Add cranberries and cook till berries pop about 7 minutes over medium heat
    • Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl, stir in wine 
    • Cool and remove cinnamon sticks
    • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate

    Check out Bella's latest posting Deer Diary, Day Two of Deer Opener

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