October Is National Cranberry Month
This is a great time of year to enjoy cranberries. Wisconsin leads the country in cranberry production.
- Nutrition and health. Cranberries are fat-free, cholesterol-free, sodium-free, and a good source of Vitamin C and fiber. Cranberries are thought to provide health benefits because of their flavonoid and phytonutrient content. These naturally occurring compounds have antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits. They have also been shown to promote cardiovascular health by reducing low-density lipoprotein-oxidation (bad cholesterol), maintaining or improving high-density lipoprotein levels (good cholesterol), and improving vascular function.
- Forms and availability. The peak harvest season for fresh cranberries is October through December. Sometimes fresh cranberries can be found in the freezer section near the end of their season. Cranberry juice, sauce and dried.
- Selection and Storage tips. Choose fresh cranberries that are full, plump, firm and dark red or yellowish-red. Avoid cranberries that are soft, shriveled, or have brown spots. Fresh cranberries should be stored in the refrigerator, preferably in a crisper for about three to four weeks. Cranberries freeze very well, either whole or sliced. When sealed in an airtight container, frozen cranberries will keep for up to nine months.
- Cooking with cranberries. Shortly before use, rinse fresh or frozen cranberries and throw out any that are shriveled or bruised. Cranberries are good for both cooking and eating raw. If raw cranberries are too tart, cook them before eating. One method is to cook them in a pot of water for 10 minutes on medium heat or until the cranberries pop. If cooked longer, they will taste bitter.
- Getting culinary with cranberries. Cranberries are versatile and can be combined with many other flavors. Try mixing cranberry juice with other juices such as apple, orange or grape. Dried cranberries can be added to nuts, trail mix, granola, oatmeal, or even chicken salad. Fresh or dried cranberries work well in quick breads such as muffins, sweet breads, and yeast breads. These berries also work well in pies, cobblers, chutneys, salsas, and relishes.