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One Symbol of the Holiday is the Cranberry


With Thanksgiving coming up in just a few weeks, you likely have started planning the Thanksgiving menu or if you are not responsible for the food, you are planning what you will eat. Besides the obvious turkey, one of the symbols of the holiday is the cranberry. For many, this means canned cranberry sauce.
Cranberries are a fruit native to North America. Harvest is a short few weeks in the fall, but like most farmers, they are working the ground and crop year round. Fresh cranberries are available from October thru December in the produce aisle. The rest are combined with other ingredients to become sauce, juice, or dried cranberries.

When selecting fresh cranberries, select shiny, plump berries, ranging in color from bright light red to dark red. Discard shriveled berries or those with brown spots.

To prepare fresh cranberries for cooking, sort out bruised berries and rinse the remainder with cold water and use in your recipe. Do not wash before freezing. If you are cooking frozen berries, thawing is not necessary, just wash, drain and follow recipe directions using frozen berries.

Fresh cranberries should be stored in the refrigerator in their original plastic bag for up to a month. You can also freeze fresh cranberries in their packaging for up to a year, so it is best to buy one for now, and freeze two for later because they are not usually available after the holidays. For storing other packaged cranberry products including juices, dried cranberries or cranberry sauce, please check the label.

Dried cranberries work well in baked goods; however, there is a one fourth cup difference in measurement. If a recipe calls for one cup of fresh or frozen cranberries, use three fourth cup of sweetened dried cranberries. You can also rehydrate dried cranberries using water or cranberry juice for a more plump texture, but this generally isn’t necessary.

Cranberry products contain polyphenol antioxidants and vitamins A,C, E and K. They contain no fat, cholesterol and are very low in sodium. Cranberry products are usually sweetened. Unlike other berries, cranberries are naturally low in sugar and high in acidity, making them especially tart. 

Why not start your Thanksgiving Day with cranberry muffins at breakfast. You can make them the night before, store in an airtight container and reheat in the oven the next morning. Set up a breakfast buffet with fresh sliced fruit, coffee, juice, milk, and your morning is off on a healthy start, with little work.

Cranberry Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1 egg, well beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
3/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, chopped or one cup dried

 Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a large bowl. Cut in margarine until mixture is course. Add egg, orange peel, and orange juice all at once. Stir until mixture is evenly moist. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, two thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 15 muffins.

For our free Cranberries for the Holidays handout, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at

By Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609


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