Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cranberry B(L)OG



Beach season is long behind us, the turkey day left overs are all gone and some of our "festive " neighbors are already flashing their outdoor Christmas lights. It's time to roll up our sleeves dig out the long underwear and embrace another long New England winter. This is GOOD thing! Well, if you HEART cranberries like we do! 


 Cooking with this tart little red berry opens up a world of possibilities for experimenting in the kitchen as well as adding more healthy nutrition to your diet too. Every little bit counts right? 
But before we get cooking let's take a gander at this popular berry and it's other uses. 


Cranberry's medicinal properties have been recognized for centuries. Native Americans used raw cranberries as a wound dressing. Early settlers from England learned to use the berry both raw and cooked for a number of ailments including appetite loss, digestive problems, blood disorders, and scurvy . Who knew? I thought only pirates got scurvy! 



Each autumn, starting in mid-September and continuing until a few weeks before American Thanksgiving, cranberry growers harvest millions of kilograms of cranberries from their farms. Massachusetts is one 6 cranberry farming states including New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and parts of British Columbia and Quebec. Additional regions with cranberry production include Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, as well as the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island.



 Altogether the entire cranberry industry is supported by approximately 47,000 acres, of which 14,000 are in Massachusetts.


Originally performed with two-handed comb scoops, dry picking is today accomplished by motorized, walk behind harvesters which must be small enough to traverse beds without damaging the vines.


Dry, fresh cranberries ready for market are stored in shallow bins or boxes with perforated or slatted bottoms, which deter decay by allowing air to circulate.  Cranberries for fresh market are frequently stored in thick walled barns without mechanical refrigeration. Cranberries destined for processing are usually frozen in bulk containers shortly after arriving at a receiving station. About 95% of all cranberries grown are processed into juice, canned cranberry products and even wine! 

( advertising label for a standard cranberry  barrel)

What's the best part of this little essay on Cranberries?  I'm excited to tell you that my mother in law actually worked in the Cranberry Kitchen for Ocean Spray   in Hansen. MA. 
 ( back in the day) where she tested recipes for some of the first Cranberry Kitchen Cook Books.


Isn't this Vintage Cookbook with the sketches of Native Americans and Pilgrims cute? 


This one belongs to my mother in law. It has some of the first recipes published by Ocean Spray designed to entice the public to use cranberries year round, not just on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  One of her jobs was to find recipes that already had fruit in them from magazines and newspaper articles. She would cut them out and then the girls in the Cranberry Kitchen would test the recipe substituting or adding cranberries to the recipe.  If it was favored it would end up in an Ocean Spray cook book!


The black and white photo above was photographed in the original Cranberry Kitchen. That isn't her hand in the colored photo, but she told me her hand WAS photographed holding a silver ladle and used on the labels for canned cranberries. As part of one advertising campaign customers could send in the labels from their canned cranberries and win a ladle like the one you see above! 



After all this Cranberry talk you must be hungry! 

For a taste of old New England cooking try this yummy bread pudding recipe with Cranberries of course!

Cranberry Pineapple Bread Pudding

Ingredients

  • 16 slices bread, ( organic white bread ) crust removed, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
  • 1 small can crushed pineapple 
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 cups milk
  • 13 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions

In a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish, layer half of the bread cubes, cranberries and orange peel. Repeat layers. Drizzle with butter. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, milk 3/4 cup sugar and vanilla; pour over bread mixture. Let stand for 15-30 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees F for 65-75 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.



Serve with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream! 

Here are a few more morsels of knowledge about the amazing Cranberry. 


Trader Joe's sells some of the finest chocolate covered Cranberries I've tasted. I hope Santa slips some into my stocking this year! I've been very GOOD girl!


Cranberry wine is made in some of the cranberry-growing regions of the United States from either whole cranberries, cranberry juice or cranberry juice concentrate.


Finally, if you REALLY love cranberries, you'll be right in step in these fabulous Cranberry Bog Boots while you eat, drink and be merry with all things CRANBERRY this holiday season! 

Wishing you a Delicious December ! 
Deborah Jean  







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