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Do you have tips on how I can use cranberries during the holidays?

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Some people love cranberries; others turn their noses up at them. Recent statistics show, however, that more people are at least willing to try them. The health benefits of cranberries, combined with their unique taste, versatility and ease of use, have led to increased use and production. In 2004, 6.58 million barrels were produced in the United States, which is up 6 percent from 2003.

Consider this information on the benefits of cranberries:

  • Cranberries are a rich source of antioxidants, which help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. Antioxidants reduce oxidative damage to cells that can lead to cancer, heart disease and other degenerative diseases. Anthocyanins, the antioxidant compound in cranberries, gives them their red color. The 5-A-Day program suggests that we eat by the rainbow, or eat all colors of fruits and vegetables each day to get a variety of the phytochemicals needed for good health. Cranberries fit well into the rainbow.

  • One cup of cranberries is an excellent source of Vitamin C (15 milligrams or half the daily need), Vitamin B6 (72 milligrams) and fiber (1.3 grams) and has only 54 calories. It has no cholesterol and only a trace of fat.

  • Fresh cranberries are available in stores mid-September through December and may be stored in the refrigerator for up to four weeks. Before using, sort and rinse cranberries in running water. Freezing cranberries for later use is economical and easy. To freeze fresh cranberries, double wrap them in plastic without washing. When using frozen cranberries in your recipes or formulas, no thawing is necessary. In fact, best results are obtained without thawing.

Dried Cranberries: Eat as a snack, or use them as a replacement for raisins.

1 (12 ounce) bag of cranberries
1/4 – 1/3 cup sugar or corn syrup

Submerge fresh cranberries in a pot of boiling water with the heat turned off. Let them sit in water until the skin pops. Do not let berries boil or the flesh will turn mushy. Drain. If desired, coat the berries with either a light corn syrup or granulated sugar. Transfer berries to a cooking sheet and place them in a freezer for 2 hours. This breaks down the cell structure, promoting faster drying. Place berries on a mesh sheet in the dehydrator and dry for 10 to 16 hours, depending on the make of the dehydrator, until chewy with no pockets of moisture. Or, place them on a cookie sheet and dry in the oven. Turn on the oven for 10 minutes at 350 F. Then place the cranberries on a cookie sheet in the oven, turn off the oven, and let them sit overnight. Store dried cranberries in the freezer.

Cranberry Salad

2 cups frozen, chopped cranberries
3 cups miniature marshmallows
3/4 cup sugar

Mix together and refrigerate overnight. Then mix the following together and add to above ingredients. Do this step one hour before serving.

2 cups chopped, peeled apples
8 ounces pineapple tidbits, drained
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
8 ounces whipped topping

Cranberry Apple Pie
2 ready-made 9 inch pie crusts
8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Place apples in pie crust. Blend cranberries in blender and spoon over apples. Mix sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and spoon over apples and cranberries. Place top crust on the pie and make slits in the crust. Brush top with a little milk. Bake in oven at 425 F for 50 minutes.

Cranberry Apple Bar

Batter:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup cranberries
4 cups sliced apples

Stir together and place in a baking dish

Topping:
1 cup oatmeal (uncooked)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Mix together, then add
4 tablespoons butter (melted)

Sprinkle topping on the batter and bake at 375 F for 35-40 minutes.

Cranberry Orange Relish
4 cups fresh cranberries
2-3 whole oranges quartered
1 cup sugar

Grind fresh cranberries and oranges in a meat grinder using a small disk. Pour into a bowl and add 1 cup of sugar or more to taste. Mix all ingredients well, chill and serve.

For more information on cranberries, visit www.cranberries.org/consumers/cframeset.html

www.5aday.com/html/research/summaries.php#5

Posted on 19 Nov 2004

Nedra Christensen
Utah State University Extension Dietician

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