Cranberries have their home in the Eastern part of North America where they were already appreciated by Native Americans. They already knew about their nutritional value and healing properties. When Pilgrim Fathers came to North America, the Native Americans showed them how to subsist on game and native plants. The Pilgrims named this plant “Crane Berry” because the blossoms moved like the head of a crane bird when wind was blowing. On the first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621 turkey was supposedly served together with cranberries. This was the beginning of the American tradition, and since then most Americans cannot imagine having a Thanksgiving meal without these red berries.
Cranberries are said to be very healthy. They have a lot of vitamins and strong antioxidants like tannin. Tannins prevent that bacteria, which can cause an inflammation of the bladder, nest in cell walls from bladder and kidneys. Cranberry juice can also be used to prevent infections in the oral and stomach regions as it stimulates the body’s own production of anti-inflammatory salicylic acid.
Currently there are more than 170 sorts of cranberries. The fruit belongs to berry bushes, like lingonberry and blueberry. Cranberry-plants are low shrubs which spread over the ground. Ripe berries shine red and have the size of little cherries. The pulp is firm and tastes tart fruity. Harvest time is September till November. There are two methods to harvest cranberries.
Machines remove the red berries gently from their stalk. They fall to a conveyor and afterwards into containers. Cranberries harvested this way usually are offered in the market as fresh fruit.
Most of the cranberries are wet-picked. Fields are flooded so that berries fall off the shrubs. Each berry has four air chambers so it can swim on the water surface. Wet-picked berries are used to produce juice, jelly, sauces or powder.
Cranberries include vitamins as C, B, E, K and minerals as iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium. So off you go and buy some of the red vitamin bombs. But keep in mind: Some of the fruits are offered sweetened and include a lot of calories. So it’s best to buy not dried and unsweetened cranberries – they have more vitamins than dried ones and less calories.