These little rubies are more than just a Thanksgiving staple and popular juice cocktail ingredient!  Dried cranberries are available year-round and are showing up in more and more these days–salads, breads, cookies– even cheese.  But don’t forget about the fresh ones, in season during the colder months, even if you’ve never done anything but make cranberry sauce once a year.  Fresh cranberries are incredibly versatile and worth a try!  I’ve been known to stockpile bags in my freezer to enjoy all year…

Eat What:

-Cranberries are grown on evergreen bushes in bogs in the cooler regions of the northern hemisphere

-Wisconsin is the leading US producer of cranberries

-Cranberries are harvested by flooding the beds and removing them from the vines, which allows them to float to the surface of the water

-Only 5% are sold fresh; the other 95% are immediately processed into juice or sauce, or dried

Eat When:

-Cranberries are harvested beginning in late September and through November

-Be sure to grab an extra bag or two to throw in your freezer–cranberry sorbet is excellent in the summer!


Eat Right:

-Cranberries are high in Vitamin C and phytonutrients, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits

-Cranberries are known for helping to prevent urinary tract infections in women; this is not due to their acidity (as was previously believed) but due to their high number of proanthocyanidins, which prevent bacteria from adhering to urinary tract walls

-Researchers have found that a cranberry’s nutritional benefits come from the combination of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in the WHOLE berry; consuming processed forms isn’t as beneficial as eating the berry itself.  Also, most of the phytonutrients are found in its skin (like many other fruits and vegetables).

Eat More:

-Add 1/4 C fresh cranberries (straight from the freezer is fine) into a morning smoothie

-Add 1/2 C cranberries (fresh or dried) and 1 tsp cinnamon to zucchini bread (in the summer) or pumpkin bread (in the fall)

-Jazz up your go-to cranberry sauce recipe with apples, cilantro and lime slices, or fresh raspberries and walnuts

-Add 1.5 C to your favorite apple pie recipe

Braised Brisket with Cranberries

(I found this in an Everyday Food magazine years ago and have been making it at least once a year ever since.  It’s such a unique way to prepare both items, and it has incredible flavor.  Serve with crusty bread or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable, like brussels sprouts.)

3 lb beef brisket, trimmed

coarse salt and ground pepper

3 tbsp flour

1 can (14.5 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 C dry red wine

1 bay leaf

2 tbsp molasses

1 bag (12 oz.) cranberries

1 bag (16 oz.) frozen pearl onions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in lowest position.  Season brisket with salt and pepper, brown in heavy-bottomed Dtuch oven, fat side down.  After 8-10 minutes, transfer brisket to a plate.

2.  Add flour to pot and cook for 30 seconds.  Add broth, wine, bay leaf, molasses, half the cranberries and 2 C water. Bring to a boil.  Return brisket to pot, cover and transfer to oven.  Cook 3 hours.

3.  Stir in onions, cover and return pot to oven for 30 minutes.  Add remaining cranberries, return to oven and cook uncovered for another 30 minutes.

Nutritional Information: 8 servings

352 cal, 13.9g fat (5g sat), 16.3g carb., 2.7g fiber, 34g protein


Holly R. Layer received a B. A. in Journalism from Penn State and served four years in the U. S. Air Force before deciding to go back to school to become a Registered Dietician.  She loves running, reading, fine stationery, colorful kitchen gadgets and ALL things food-related.  An avid cook and baker, you can find her in the kitchen most days whipping up something yummy.  Too bad her husband, Andrew (an East Aurora native) is the pickiest man alive!  You can find her at