I‘m excited because this month my white cardboard box will arrive. It’s an early Christmas present sent from my Aunt Diane. Thoughtfully each one of my siblings gets the same parcel and every year the question at hand is, “What are you going to do with yours this year?” Shake the white container and it sounds like a box of marbles, open it, and there lay hundreds of ravishing red, gorgeous round cranberries. It is time to cook up some chutneys, sauces and salads. I might roast, freeze, pulverize or dry them. I’ll add them to sweets, combine them as savories with vegetables and meats or bake them into breads and cookies. It’s so much fun and the possibilities are endless. Uses for cranberries are not the greatest challenge; it’s keeping them corralled in my kitchen since they roll around like sprung pinballs!
If you are planning to go cranberry picking you better bring your waders. Cranberry farmers harvest their crop by flooding their fields with water and floating the berries right off their vines. This exposes each berry to sunlight as it rolls around in the water. The sunlight produces a dramatic increase in color, vitamin C and phytonutrients. They then brush through the wetlands and skim the fruit off the surface of the bog. The birds and wildlife love it. Enjoy watching the whole picking process in this National Geographic video on harvesting cranberries.*
“Cranberries also improve the immune response, so isn’t it great that they are fresh during the cold and flu season?”
Sure cranberries are delicious during this season, but did you know we would be smart to eat them year round? Everyone knows cranberry juice is good anytime for “plumbing issues” (UTI). Its their antibacterial components that perform that function, but the same mechanism also blocks bacteria in the digestive tract, helping prevent stomach ulcers and other gut issues. The phytonutrients that give cranberries their red color (anthocyanins) and other micronutrients also help prevent inflammation and have antioxidant effects, which is a primary factor in cardiovascular disease and cancer. What a berry! Cranberries also improve the immune response, so isn’t it great that they are fresh during the cold and flu season? “Cranberries have vitamin C and fiber, and are only 45 calories per cup. In disease-fighting antioxidants, cranberries outrank nearly every fruit and vegetable â€“ including strawberries, spinach, broccoli, red grapes, apples, raspberries, and cherries. One cup of whole cranberries has 8,983 total antioxidant capacity. Only blueberries can top that: Wild varieties have 13,427; cultivated blueberries have 9,019.”**
Salty’s chefs invite you to try Kumamoto Oysters finished with yet another wonderful recipe cranberry sunamono November 6 to 12. So come by and “pick cranberries” at Salty’s, no waders necessary!
*After writing this blog including a link to the National Geographic video on harvesting cranberries, I discovered a wonderful coincidence: the farm in the video is my first cousins’ in-laws (they were in the video too). They wanted you to know you can also find good information about their farm Glacial Lake Cranberries at cranberry link.com.
**Read more on Webmd.com “Cranberries Year Round Superfood.”