Saturday, Dec. 09, 2023|
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When I see a bag of fresh cranberries, I get excited as it means it is getting close to my favorite day, Thanksgiving!
Here are the steps needed to harvest of cranberries:
1. Cranberries are planted in sandy bogs.
2. In April the cranberry vines begin to bud, in July after the bees have pollinated the flowers, they begin to blossom. By August, the berries form, changing from green to pink and finally to a deep red. From late September through October, the cranberries are fully mature and ready for harvesting.
3. Cranberries need a continuous supply of fresh water in order to grow. With an irrigation system, growers position wooden planks called flumes that carry water from a reservoir into the bog filling it to a depth of eight inches of water.
4. During the day in harvest season, workers use eight-foot-wide beaters, which look like wheat thrashers, to gently loosen the berries from the vines. Every night another eight inches of water is added to the bog so that the cranberries collect on the surface of the water.
5. Eight-foot long floating pine boards called hitch boards, or water racks, sweep the berries into a corner of the bog and push them into elevator thrasher machines, which filter out debris.
6. The berries are transported to the processor, where they are weighed, placed in a large holding bin, cleaned again and packed within 24 hours. Eighty percent of the crops is frozen.
7. Fresh berries go through a bouncing test. They are bounced over a four-foot barrier to determine ripeness. “A good berry will bounce about six times,” says Doug Beaton, a cranberry farmer. Berries that don’t meet the bouncing requirement are discarded.
Cranberries are very high in disease-fighting antioxidants, such as flavonoids, which can neutralize free radicals, reduce the risk of cancer and work with resveratrol to block cholesterol oxidation which lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
They are also packed with polyphenols which can improve digestion issues, weight management difficulties, diabetes and cardiovascular issues.
We think of cranberries as a home remedy to treat urinary tract infections, but recent information from The Science of Health says there is no strong evidence that it works. Physician of University Hospitals, Dr. Rachel Wallace, DO, claims we are better off drinking water. Hydration helps prevent UTIs and Dr. Wallace says we do not need the added sugar. She claims that urinary tract infections (UTIs) happen when bacteria, usually E. coli bacteria from the bowel, enter the urethra. Most often, infections occur in the bladder.
Did you know that men can get UTIs also, although women get them more commonly. A simple urine test can determine what antibiotic is best to treat the problem.
Cranberries should not be eaten if one is on Coumadin or warfarin as it could raise the risk of bleeding or if you are on a regular regiment of aspirin as it contains salicylic acid.
If you pick up any current issue of a food magazine you will probably find a new ingredient added to make cranberry sauce.
This recipe from Jo Cooks claims to be the “world’s best” sauce:
The World’s Best
12 ounces cranberries, rinsed
1/2 cup orange juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange zest
Heat all ingredients in a pour over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat to a medium and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, sitting occasionally. You will notice the cranberries will burst as they cook.
Cool and serve.
I always make my favorite, with three cranberry ingredients, cranberry juice, fresh cranberries and dried cranberries. With the recipe above, using the sugar, nutmeg, vanilla extract and orange zest, it would create a very special sauce.
Eating Well magazine has a recipe for cranberry cheesecake bars that are easy to make.
Cranberry Cheesecake Bars
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tablespoons sugar
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup regular rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup fat-free milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
In a small saucepan bring cranberries, orange juice and 2 tablespoons sugar to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until slightly thick.
Cook slightly. Transfer to a food processor, cover and process until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl (1/3 cup), discard solids. Wash the processor bowl and blade.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 13×9 inch baking pan with cooking spray. For crust, place oats in food processor, cover and process until coarsely ground.
In a small bowl combine ground oats, flour, brown sugar, and melted butter. Press onto the bottom of the prepared pan.
In a large bowl beat cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar and vanilla with a mixer on medium until smooth. Beat in milk. Stir in eggs just until combined.
Spread cream cheese mixture over crust.
Drop cranberry mixture by teaspoonfuls onto cream cheese mixture. Swirl slightly to marble.
Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are puffed and center in set. Cool in a pan on a wire rack. Cover and chill 4 to 24 hours before serving. Cut into bars, wiping knife between cuts.
Happy Thanksgiving on Thursday!
Email Audrey Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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