When we consider the standard Thanksgiving menu, we think of turkey, corn, stuffing, greens, cranberry sauce, and oodles of yams and pumpkin pie. We often forget that many of these foods came to be traditional Thanksgiving fare because that’s what was available on land for the first American settlers to eat. Wild turkey, maize, wild berries—these were the foods already growing on North American terrain before the Europeans began cultivating new crops transported from their motherland.
The cranberry is of particular importance because, believe it or not, it is considered to be one of only three fruits actually native to North America. That’s right. There are arguably just three fruits native to North America: the cranberry, the blueberry, and the Concord grape. There is much controversy as to the legitimacy of this fact, but the underlying idea is that of all our current modern fruits, with their specific genetic variations and cross-breedings, only those three originated exactly as they are today as natives in this country.
So for that, the cranberry is indeed a worthy addition to all Thanksgiving tables.
But the cranberry sauce which is so widely eaten on American tables is anything but traditional—the canned stuff from the grocery store is often laden with corn syrup, artificial thickeners, and sometimes even artificial colors. The canned stuff is a far cry from homemade cranberry sauce, which is amazingly simple to prepare, and greatly worth the small effort.
Fresh cranberries offer vast nutritional benefits in addition to their superior tart flavor, crisp texture, and bright zest. They are loaded with immune-boosting vitamin C, age-defying collagen, and disease-fighting antioxidants. They are especially beneficial for women, as they are widely known to stave off urinary tract infections.
This holiday season, boost your flavor and nutrient intakes by experimenting with fresh cranberries. Both your taste buds and your health will thank you. Here are a few recipes to complement the holiday menu planning on everyone’s lists.
1) Curried Chicken with Fresh & Dried Cranberries, Eating Well
2) Fresh Pear & Cranberry Compote, Examiner
3) Fresh Cranberry Scones, The Kitchn
4) Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberry Brown Butter, Food & Wine
5) Fresh Cranberry Sauce, Two Peas in a Pod