To all politicians running for office in the next election,
here's some free advice: Grab, hire, lure, shanghai whoever has been
running the public-relations campaign for cranberries in the United
States during the past few decades.
Had actor Gary Coleman hired those cranberry PR folks, he'd be
governor of California.
Why? Look around your supermarket. Cranberries are everywhere, in
everything: breakfast cereals, ice cream, sparkling water, jams and
jellies, candy bars, pies, cold soups, chutneys, granola, muffins.
There's even a cranberry ketchup. And juice. Especially juice. And
not just plain cranberry juice. It's getting more difficult to find
a juice that doesn't have cranberries - Cranapple, Cranraspberry,
Crangrape. In fact, today most cranberries go into juice production.
Not surprising. It takes about 4,400 berries to produce every gallon
of cranberry juice.
A more recent introduction to the growing cranberry market are
white cranberries. The variety is harvested a few weeks earlier than
its more colorful cousin, and is used primarily in white cranberry
juice, where it is blended with white grape juice. (The juice is
rather insipid and lacks the traditional snap of the red.)
It wasn't long ago that cranberries made a once-a-year cameo
appearance at Thanksgiving, usually in the form of canned cranberry
jell. That red, slimy blob with ribs squiggled so much that it
appeared to have a life of its own.
Although it was clearly the most colorful addition to my family's
dinner table, it was in the shadow of Mother's roast turkey, the
sweet-potato casserole (don't forget the minimarshmallows), and
Grandmother's frozen string-bean casserole (smothered with canned
Today, among cooks of more sophistication, Thanksgiving dinner
might include a multidimensional cranberry chutney (see recipe) or
relish. Or cranberries might appear in any number of desserts.
Indeed, they are also a tangy condiment and a perfect accompaniment
to pork, poultry, and game.
Cranberries were once referred to as "bounce berries," as ripe
fruit should bounce like a Ping-Pong ball; and as "crane berries,"
since the pale pink blossoms were thought to resemble the beaks of
cranes, which can often be seen feeding in bogs where the scarlet
The bitter berries are one of few fruits that can't be eaten out
of hand because of their extreme tartness. They must be sweetened to
make them palatable.
Native Americans, who introduced them to the early settlers,
would boil them with maple syrup and maybe just a tad of bear fat,
or mash them with deer meat. They also used the juice to dye
clothing, blankets, and rugs.
Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, has always had a corner of the
cranberry market. …