For most of us, cranberry sauce is a requisite part of our holiday feasts. But there is more to this little berry than meets the eye.
It is one of only three fruits native to North America, the others being blueberries and concord grapes. They are 90-percent water and due to four air pockets, they float. Contrary to popular belief they do not grow in water but grow on shrubs and trailing vines in sandy bogs or marshes. When we see pictures of the cranberries floating on the water we are observing how they are water harvested.
The night before harvest the bogs and marshes are flooded with water, and the following day equipment dislodges the berry from the vine, and the berries can be collected and packaged.
More than 75 percent of cranberries are grown in the United States, and approximately 60 percent of those crops are grown in Wisconsin, known to some as Cranberryland. Americans consume over 400 million pounds of cranberries every year.
While research is ongoing we know that cranberries contain the same heart smart flavonoids found in red wine and grapes, they are nutrient rich with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C. They also contain the flavonoid called proanthocyanidins (PACs), which offer bacterial anti-adhesive properties helpful in reducing the incidence of infections. In addition to supporting digestive health, they promote heart health and assist with decreasing inflammation.
Cranberries were not always called cranberries, though. Some North American Indian tribes called them ibimi, and the Algonquin tribes called them sassamanash. It was the Dutch and German settlers who thought the plants and vine blossoms resembled the neck, head and bill of a crane, and so named them crane berry, which eventually became cranberry.
With all of the other things we are thankful for lets be thankful for that.
Because "Please pass the sassamanash sauce" just doesn’t roll off the tongue.