What do you know about that little tart berry?

Cranberry facts and recipes.

Did you know that cranberries are one of only three fruits native to North America?  Did you also know that cranberries are a good source for antioxidants?  Whether you like your cranberries dried, in a sauce or as a juice, this time of year brings attention to this tart and tangy berry. 

The following cranberry facts will make for an interesting discussion at your holiday table:

1550 – Native Americans were not only used cranberries for food, but also for dyes and medicine.

1683 – Maine was the setting for the first cranberry juice.

During the 1920s – Maine developed over 600 aces of cranberry bogs.

1868 – 56 cents bought you a standard 100 pound barrel of cranberries in Philadelphia.

1910 – Massachusetts established a Cranberry Experimental Station for cranberry research.

1912 – Hanson, Mass. marketed the first cranberry sauce.

During the 1930’s – Women were allowed to use cranberry scoops.

1953 – The first million barrel national crop was harvested.

1960’s – The first successful water harvesting occurred and sprinkler systems were installed on most bogs.

1995 – The first 4,200 barrel harvested in Maine at $90 per barrel.

2009 – Record breaking crop of 26,000 barrels was harvested in Maine.

2012 – We now know that cranberries offer antioxidants and maybe even protection against Alzheimer’s disease.           

You can add cranberries to many dishes such as; quick breads, yeast breads, salads, relishes, salsas, chutneys and desserts.  Enjoy these two recipes during the holiday season, or any time!

Cranberry-Onion Relish

1 large Spanish onion, peeled, quartered and sliced

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil

1½ cups cranberries

¼ cup orange juice

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

1 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss onions with sugar and oil in a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Bake, uncovered, until the onions are very tender and golden, 1 to 1¼ hours, stirring every 15 minutes. 

Transfer the onion mixture to a medium saucepan and add cranberries, orange juice and zest, vinegar and salt. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until the cranberries are tender and the mixture is thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool. Makes eight Servings

Make ahead tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to one week. 

Nutrition per tablespoon: 38 calories; 1 g fat ( 0 g fat , 0 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrates; 0 g protein; 1 g fiber; 74 mg sodium; 59 mg potassium.

Cranberry Pear Chutney Recipe

2 cups fresh cranberries

¾ cup thawed apple juice concentrate

1 pear, peeled and cubed

½ cup raisins 


In a saucepan, bring cranberries and concentrate to a boil. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Add pear and raisins; cook and stir until berries pop and pear is tender, about 5-7 minutes. Pour into a serving bowl; chill overnight. Makes two cups.

Nutritional Analysis:  One quarter-cup serving equals 99 calories, trace fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 8 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 1 g protein.

You can read about other nutritious food through Michigan State University Extension. For more information about cranberries visit the Cranberry Institute website: 


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