Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Seven Days of Thanksgiving, Day 5: A Berry Good Side Dish

Native Americans used the cranberry not only as food, but for medicinal purposes and for dyeing fabric.

Early cultivators of the cranberry originally called it the "craneberry", finding resemblance between the plant and the neck of a crane.

Wisconsin is responsible for more than half of the United States' cranberry production, followed by Massachusetts. Additionally, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington grow significant amounts of cranberries.

Cranberry crops are pollinated by domestic honeybees.

Unripe cranberries are white; their trademark crimson color is a result of ripening.

European cranberry sauce is usually sour-tasting, while that found in the United States is considerably sweeter.

Among the health benefits of cranberries are polyphenol antioxidants, which are believed to fight neurdegenerative and cardiovascular disease.

Ocean Spray was formed in 1930 as a cooperative by three cranberry growers looking to expand their business. Their Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin processing plant is, at 440,000 square feet, the world's largest cranberry processing facility.

Irish rock band The Cranberries, known for their early-1990s hits "Linger", "Dreams" and "Zombie" recently reunited after having disbanded in 2003 due to its members pursuing solo careers.

A lyric sung by John Lennon at the end of The Beatles' 1967 hit "Strawberry Fields Forever", long rumored to be "I buried Paul" is actually "cranberry sauce."

Cranberry Sauce: Better Than Canned

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
12 oz cranberries
2 sections orange peel

Combine sugar, water and orange peel in medium saucepan; bring to boil
Add cranberries and return to boil
Cover, reduce heat and boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
Pour into bowl, cover with plastic wrap and cool completely
Refrigerate until ready to serve

Yields about 2 cups

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