By Liza Drew, Keene State College Dietetic Intern
Flavorful Fact: Though they may be small, cranberries are bursting with health benefits. Cranberries are often water-harvested, meaning that the bog is flooded so that the cranberries float to the surface for easier collection.
Recently, studies have found that water-harvested cranberries contain more antioxidants because exposure to sunlight increases these healthy phytonutrients that make cranberries red. One such antioxidant is resveratrol, which is also found in dark chocolate and red wine and may help prevent cancer.
I remember trudging through a cold and soggy marsh on a class field trip when I was little. The leader of our adventure, an environmental scientist, pointed out interesting plants and identified bird-calls along the way. At one point, she reached down and picked a small handful of shiny red berries. She told us they were wild cranberries and offered us tastes. I was familiar with cranberries as I liked to help my mom make cranberry sauce during the holidays.
My classmates faces puckered as tiny red bits of cranberry were spit out onto the brown leaves beneath our feet. “These aren’t cranberries!” one boy shouted, having never tasted the fruit in its natural form without heaps of sugar added to its juice.
Cranberries are one of the only berries native to North America, and grow well in New England. Cranberries are also easy to store, dried, frozen, or made into preserves or chutney. They provide colorful and flavorful variety to a cold-weather meal, and are filled with vitamin C, a nutrient that we sometimes lack in winter months. They can be used in savory dishes, such as this crunchy carrot and cranberry salad or in festive desserts like this chocolate tart with candied cranberries.
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