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Ingredient Spotlight: Cranberries - Modern Alternative KitchenModern Alternative Kitchen

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Of all the berries, I think cranberries are under appreciated and are mainly neglected all year long…until Thanksgiving rolls around and you find them on every table on most homes in America, sliding out of a can. Personally, I was always a big fan of the canned cranberry sauce, and because I was the only one in my family who ate it, I would be having it at every meal for a week after Thanksgiving! Last week while at the grocery store, I decided to see what ingredients were in a can of “jellied” cranberry sauce. There are only four ingredients: cranberries, corn syrup high fructose, water, and corn syrup. Apparently, one corn syrup is not enough! Now that I don’t eat most (any?) processed foods, I wanted to think of other ways to incorporate cranberries into our diet on a regular basis-not just once a year!

The Basics

You know the famous commercial by a popular cranberry juice brand where two guys are standing in a giant pool of cranberries? I always thought that the pool of cranberries was just for dramatic effect, but it turns out that in order to harvest cranberries, the beds they are grown in must be flooded. This makes the harvest process much easier, and also prevents against freezing. Harvest is typically done in the fall months of October and November, and can start as early as September, although it was late October before I was able to find fresh cranberries in local grocery stores and farmers markets here in the Pacific Northwest.

Cranberries are loaded with vitamin C and other antioxidants and studies show that they contain anti-cancer and heart disease fighting properties. Cranberries and pure cranberry juice (not cranberry juice cocktail) have been used to treat urinary tract infections and gum disease, and more research on the health benefits of cranberries is constantly emerging. Luckily, cranberries can easily be added to many dishes, both sweet and savory, to make obtaining these health benefits incredibly simple!

Fresh, Frozen, or Dried

While fresh cranberries are typically available in the US from October through December, many grocery retailers will carry frozen cranberries throughout the year. If you know that you are unable to get fresh or frozen cranberries throughout the year, stock up on fresh berries now and freeze them for later! You can freeze cranberries using Joanna’s method of freezing blueberries found here.

Another option if you don’t have access to fresh or frozen cranberries is to use dried/dehydrated. While you can dehydrate your own when you have access to fresh, I like to use these dried cranberries from Eden Organic during the off months. One of my contributors suggested these, and they are made without the use of high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, or other preservatives. I typically order mine from Amazon, but they are also available in specialty health food stores,

Cranberry Recipes

Here are a few cranberry recipes from the MAK contributors:

Raw Walnut Cranberry Kefir Smoothie and Late Harvest Fruit Medley Crisp from Riddlelove

Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Scones from The Spinach Spot

Cranberry Orange Ricotta Muffins and Breakfast Brownies from Plus Other Good Stuff

Versatile Recipe

In my CSA from this week, I got a pint of fresh , organic cranberries and two Bosc pears. I knew I wanted to combine the two to make a compote that could be used for many recipes:

  • Crepe Filling: Using the coconut flour crepe recipe from Grain Free Meal Plan Cookbook Vol 1
  • As a topper for pancakes, waffles, or cheesecake
  • Pour over a block of cream cheese and serve with sourdough crackers for a quick and easy appetizer
  • Served as a garnish with pork or poultry
  • As a pie filling!

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What is your favorite way to prepare cranberries?

Sources: 1, 2, and 3


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  1. I am a huge fan of fresh cranberries! They are so yummy. I stock up this time of year and freeze them so I can make them throughout the year. Congrats on the e-book.


  2. Just a quick correction 🙂 Cranberries bought in bags at the store are actually harvested dry with fork-like picker bins. Flooded cranberries can only be used to make juice or other processed items and are not dried out and sold. Learned this by going to a Cranberry festival in Massachusetts with the hubbs and baby and watching them harvest both ways. They even let us harvest some cranberries with the little picker bins (not in the flooded bogs). Super fun time, if you are ever in Wareham, MA, at the beginning of October! Tons to do for kids and adults alike 🙂


  3. […] Ingredient Spotlight: Cranberries : Modern Alternative Kitchen […]


  4. two Christmases ago i made cranberry sauce from scratch with a bit of orange – not only did it taste better than that scary corn syrupy jelly but it felt better too. and much more nutritious! and with all the candy, alcohol and junk food at this time of year, i’ll take a little “health” in my cran-sauce.

    thank you for sharing your post with us at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up! i look forward to seeing what other seasonal & whole/real food posts you have for us this week! xo, kristy


  5. […] Sweet Potato Casserole (find the recipe in MAK’s Holiday ebook)* […]


  6. […] Sweet Potato Casserole (find the recipe in MAK’s Holiday ebook)* […]


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