So, you ask, exactly what is the 'cranberry', and why is it so nutritious?
The Cranberry bush is an interesting looking evergreen shrub ordinarily found growing in sharp marshlands in the chillier regions of North America.
The actual berry of the cranberry shrub initially appears as a basic pale white, however as it grows and ripens it turns a dark cherry colour.
Even though it is actually a member of the same family as the blueberry and the whinberry, the cranberry is slightly plenty tart, and this seems to complement the pleasing sweetness, a fact which puts it in that strange niche in the food world of ingredients that can accompany meat based recipes and cakes, cookies, fruits, pastries and candies.
Cranberries most likely got the name 'cranberry' as a result of the belief that they are usually eaten by cranes (ie 'crane-berry') - although some people hold the view that the real origin is based on the fact that in the earlier stages of the flower's development, it looks a little bit like the shape of the crane. No matter what the true etymology, the word 'cranberry' is now well established throughout the civilised world.
Cranberries are now a great economic crop in many northern US States, and have a unique and historic place in American culture as some experts believe that they were offered to starving colonists by the aboriginal population. Because of this, cranberry sauce is a significant piece of the beloved thanksgiving meal enjoyed by millions of Americans each year.
Most of the yearly cranberry yield is turned into juice and cranberry jelly, but a larger proportion of it is now sold in its raw berry state as a result of medical claims that it is one of the 'superfoods', having very beneficial nutritional content and antioxidant 'reducing agent' attributes.
In early days, these versatile and tasty berries were cultivated in cranberry beds located in damp marshland, but recently the cultivation is done in upland areas with a water table that is quite shallow. In these cranberry beds, contrary to popular belief, the cranberry beds are not kept 'underwater' but are continually irrigated to maintain a sensible water level in the ground.
Cranberry juice is now sold the four corners of the world, and as well as the better known 'burgundy' juice, is also on the shelves in a clear or 'white' form which is made from the younger berries.
Medicinal properties of cranberries
Some people hold that the juice of the cranberry is blessed with medical benefits that are good for preventing bacteria growth of the urinary tract.
Additionally, this delicious berry has been useful in dealing with a number of other troubles, such as a treatment for open wounds, bowel complaints, diabetes, stomach upsets, and as a tonic for a healthful liver. Some research has been completed which indicates that frequent doses of cranberry juice might even help to lower the risk of coronary disease.
Of course, as with all such medicinal claims, one should exercise serious scepticism - qualified professional opinion is still divided and the correct reason for increasing your consumption of these versatile berries is the observable fact they actually taste wonderful! As mentioned earlier in this article, these versatile and tasty berries are used in making both desserts and main course recipes, with the most popular use being as an accompaniment to the much-loved roast turkey. Don't let this 'regular' use put you off though, cranberry berries are also quite superb when used in sweet dishes.
If you want to try cooking some appetizing recipes using cranberries you can find many of them on the web, but in case you can't wait, here is a delicious cranberry recipe:
A recipe for cranberry cobbler
1 x Thick skinned orange
one cup of water
1/2 cup Granulated sugar (or equivalent sugar substitute)
4 cups These tasty berries
1 tbsp Unsalted butter
1 pack Biscuit dough (to produce 8 biscuits).
Finely grate the orange rind and put on one side. Put the rest of the orange thru a juicer. Combine juice of the orange, the orange rind, moisture, granulated sugar (or equivalent sugar substitute), these versatile and tasty berries and butter in a non-stick pan. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for one min to produce a thick sauce.
Spoon the sauce evenly amongst eight well-greased ovenproof dishes or, into a casserole dish. Spoon the biscuit dough on top of the sauce.
Cook at 450 f for 10 min, turn down heat setting & oven bake at 180 c (350 f) for 20 min longer.
Less than 100 calories per helping !
About the Author: Roger is a recipe contributor at: "recipe-ideas", which offers cooks and chefs a selection of healthy cranberry recipes that are easy to prepare at home.
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