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Nashville, Ark. – For most people, Thanksgiving means turkey. While the turkey is
a main part of the holiday meal, it wouldn’t be the same without cranberry sauce.
However, it is unlikely that cranberry sauce was on the menu the first Thanksgiving.
Cranberry sauce requires sugar, which was in short supply in those early days. Today,
cranberry sauce is a staple at most Thanksgiving dinners.
Today, fresh cranberries rarely are eaten for 10 months of the year. We
may eat canned jellied cranberry sauce, cranberry juice or dried sweetened cranberries,
but not the wonderful, tart, fresh cranberry. So from October thru December take advantage
of fresh berries in the produce aisle at your favorite grocery store.
The American Cranberry is native to North America and grows wild from
Canada as far south as the mountains in North Carolina. Cranberries are cultivated
commercially only in Canada and five states: Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wisconsin,
where the berry is native; and Washington and Oregon, to which cranberries were introduced
Fresh whole berries are more expensive because they have to be hand-picked
to avoid the damage caused by machine-picking. When choosing fresh cranberries to
purchase, pick up the bag and inspect it. Look to see that the berries are shiny,
plump and range in color from bright light red to dark red. If the package has several
berries that are soft, put it back and choose another package.
When you are ready to use the cranberries, wash them gently by rubbing
them under running tap water. Discard shriveled berries or those with brown spots.
Good, ripe cranberries will bounce, which is why they are nicknamed “bounce berries”.
Fresh cranberries should be stored in a tightly-sealed plastic bag in
the refrigerator. As with all berries, if one starts getting soft and decaying, the
others will quickly soften and decay also. Be sure to sort out the soft ones, if you
plan to store them for more than a few days.
Fresh cranberries may last from 2 weeks up to 2 months in the refrigerator.
Cooked cranberries can last up to a month in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Washed cranberries may be frozen for up to 1 year in airtight bags. You may substitute
sweetened dried cranberries for fresh or frozen cranberries in baked recipes.
Cranberries contain about 25 calories in ½ cup of fresh berries and 10%
of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, plus plenty of natural antioxidants.
Fresh cranberries contain no cholesterol, virtually no fat and very little sodium.
Whole fresh cranberries and any foods that are hard, round or difficult
to chew can sometimes lodge in small airways, causing a child to choke. Before serving
cranberries to a child under age three, always chop the raw berry or cook them until
they are tender.
There is nothing to compare to fresh cranberry sauce. Consider making
some this holiday season. You will find a basic recipe on the back of the package
of cranberries. It takes about 15 minutes to make and in my opinion is so much better
than the jellied cranberry sauce from the can.
Try cranberries all year long, not only at Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Chicken and pork dishes are great with fresh cranberry relish for a nice change.
For more information on adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your holiday
meal contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517. I will be glad to
send you the USDA food fact sheet, “Countdown to the Thanksgiving Meal”. It has everything
you need to know about preparing your turkey safely, general food safety tips and
storing leftovers. You can also visit our office located on the second floor of the
Recipe of the Week
This is a great recipe for holiday meals. Since this recipe is made with
some recipe substitutions including using a sugar substitute, diabetics can enjoy
this holiday favorite.
1 (9 oz.) can crushed unsweetened pineapple, juice packed*
1 (3 oz.) sugar-free cherry gelatin
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Sugar substitute equivalent to ¼ cup sugar
1 cup fresh cranberries, ground
1 small orange, peeled, quartered and ground*
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup pecans or other nuts, broken into pieces (optional)
Drain the juice from the pineapple and save it. Set the pineapple aside
for later use. Combine the pineapple juice with water to equal 2 cups liquid. Set
Prepare the gelatin according to the directions on the package using the
juice-water mixture for the liquid. One the gelatin is dissolved, stir in the lemon
juice. Chill it until it’s partially set.
In a separate bowl, combine the pineapple, sugar substitute, cranberries,
orange, celery and nuts. Add this mixture to the partially set gelatin and stir it
until blended. Pour the mixture into a large mold, several smaller molds or into a
glass bowl. Chill it until it is firm.
*Note: Do not use fresh or frozen pineapple in this recipe. It will prevent the gelatin
from jelling. You may use a small can of mandarin oranges in place of the fresh orange.
Drain and chop the oranges before adding to the recipe.
Nutrition Information per Serving with Nuts: Calories: 80; sodium: 27 milligrams;
carbohydrate: 11 grams; dietary fiber: 2 grams; protein: 1 gram; fat: 3 grams. Exchanges:
1 fruit, ½ fat
Nutrition Information per Serving without Nuts: Calories: 35; sodium: 27 milligrams;
carbohydrate: 10 grams; dietary fiber: 1 grams; protein: ½ gram; fat: 0 grams. Exchanges:
By Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff ChairThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff Chair U of A Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service 421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852 (870) 845-7517 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
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