Although I always loved my mother’s Thanksgiving feast, there were certain elements I simply could not be thankful for. I adored Mom’s roasted turkey and out-of-this-world southern cornbread dressing, but the canned jellied cranberry sauce was simply not my favorite thing. Once I discovered fresh, frozen and dried cranberries, though, they became one of my seasonal favorite ingredients — not only for my Thanksgiving table. Come November, I crank up the cranberries in just about everything from quick breads, breakfast dishes and desserts to side dishes, winter salads and sauces.
Cranberries are one of a handful of fruits that are truly native to North America. They’re naturally tart and sour, which is why sugar or other sweeteners are often added to cranberry juice, dried cranberries and cranberry sauce. Either fresh or frozen cranberries are perfect for making cranberry sauce or for adding to quick breads, muffins and cakes. Dried cranberries are particularly delicious in breakfast items, desserts, sauces, snacks, side dishes and salads.
These tips and ideas are meant to satisfy some incredible cranberry cravings this holiday season:
- If you enjoy making your own holiday gifts, consider these wonderful Sugared Cranberries. They are wonderful baked into pies or a holiday cheesecake.
- Speaking of pies, this Spiced Apple Pie with Cranberries and Currants is made with dried cranberries, crystallized ginger and a variety of warm, seasonal spices, and these Pear and Cranberry Lattice Tarts are made with puff pastry, vanilla and cloves.
- Add fresh or dried cranberries to gluten-free or traditional stuffing. A few ideas include Bacon, Cranberry and Mushroom Rice Stuffing, Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffing with Walnuts, Quinoa Pilaf with Cranberries and Almonds, and Chestnut Stuffing.
- Sauté mushrooms, onions and celery. Add breadcrumbs and dried cranberries. Stuff into halved winter squash, such as acorn, small sugar-pie pumpkins or butternut squash. Here’s an idea for Wild Rice Stuffed Mini Pumpkins and here’s another for Harvest-Stuffed Acorn Squash.
- Be sure to add fresh or dried cranberries to pancakes, waffles and baked goods such Cranberry Banana Oat Bread, Cranberry Banana Quinoa Bread, Savory Cheese, Cranberry and Herb Mini Muffins (a perfect appetizer!), Cranberry Pecan Shortbread Cookies, Chocolate-Drizzled Pistachio Biscotti, or simply delicious Biscotti made with cranberries.
- Add cranberries to side dishes and salads such as Edamame Succotash, Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage and Cranberries, Wild Rice Salad with Pecans and Cranberries, and Tangy Coleslaw with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts and Green Beans with Goat Cheese, Cranberries and Bacon.
- Add cranberries to sauces and glazes. I love these Cornish Hens with Cranberry-Orange Glaze.
We’ve also got a variety of cranberry sauce recipes sure to add great flavor and beauty to any holiday table:
- Cranberry Sauce with Walnuts
- Orange Cranberry Sauce
- Citrus-Cranberry Red Wine Sauce
- Cranberry Sauce with Candied Ginger
- Cranberry Pear Sauce with Vanilla
- Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Chardonnay and Orange Zest
If you love cranberry juice, Whole Foods Market has the real, straight deal - 100% pure cranberry juice with no added sugars, fruit juice concentrates, high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. It’s totally tart and very refreshing. Try it mixed with a splash of sparkling water and a squeeze of fresh orange or lime juice. If tart is not your thing, we offer a variety of naturally sweetened cranberry juice as well.
Do you clamor for cranberries at holiday time? Got a favorite recipe? Let me know.