The Lonely Berry

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I did a little dance yesterday when I stepped into the produce section of my local grocery store. 

Not literally, but you know, in my heart.

My favorite berry, THE best of it's kind in my opinion, was perched smack between the oranges and grapefruits (don't ask me why- it isn't of the citrus variety, but possibly because it pairs so well with 'em).

The Cranberry.

Oh yes, the lonely berry.  The one that only comes out once a year in canned form (while maintaining it's canned form, mind you, after you suction it out of it's sorry said-can and plop it on a plate or into a bowl).  The obligatory canned glop that sits on the table for few to partake in- because, let's be honest, not many people actually partake.

I mean, who would want to?  The stuff looks like bright crimson gelatinous goo that's been sitting far too long in it's canned state for anyone to really enjoy, let alone crave.  Plus, it's so jacked up with sugar that you can hardly discern the real cranberry tang of it's original form.

No- I don't blame those averse to the canned variety.  However the real stuff?  THAT is what I love.  Whole berry cranberry sauce.  Made yourself, at home, with a bit of orange juice, zest, and ginger.  Oh yes.  This is what I long for.

And it's so. darn. easy to make.  Really.   I mean, yes, it's much easier to open a can and suck out goo with a spoon- but really, trust me on this- the made-yourself kind is better.

Much better.

Many people, not just myself, actually love these little guys.  So much that the great state of Wisconsin has devoted an entire festival to them.  And I actually know a faithful family that has attended for years (yes, Hoards, I'm referring to you!).  In addition, the cranberry has it's own institute- fully devoted to seeking research on the many health benefits of this little fruit. 

Speaking of health benefits, the little guy is stocked with good-for-you perks.  Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins (PACs) that can prevent certain bacteria, including E. coli, from sticking urinary tract wall and thus preventing infection. The cranberry may also inhibit bacteria associated with gum disease AND stomach ulcers.  In addition, cranberries contain large amounts of antioxidants and other nutrients that may help protect against heart disease, cancer and other diseases.  Joe Vinson, a doctor and research chemist at the University of Scranton, states,


Cranberries [contain] the most antioxidant phenols compared to 19 other commonly eaten fruits.  Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants and should be eaten more often. 

(Source: http://www.cranberryinstitute.org/healthresearch.htm)


Well thanks, Joe- I'll take your word for it!

So let's, shall we?

My favorite cranberry concoction is a simple whole berry sauce.  You can spoon this stuff onto your turkey, sure, but you can also put it atop ice cream, slathered on your morning muffin or toast (my fav way to eat it), or mixed in Greek yogurt.  Your choice!  The possibilities are endless.

Gingery Orange Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:
- 1/2 C water
- 1/2 C freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 C sugar
- 4 C fresh cranberries or one 12oz package fresh or frozen
- Zest of one orange
- 1 tsp ground ginger or freshly grated

Instructions:
- Bring water, orange juice, and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add cranberries and return to a boil.  Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Crush some with a potato masher, if desired (I like some crushed, some whole).  Mix in zest and ginger, stir to combine.  Pour sauce into a bowl, cover, and cool completely to room temperature.  Refrigerate once cooled (or freeze/can in individual containers).  Makes 2 1/4 cups.

How lovely are these colors?

 

Gorgeous, I tell you.

 

Once the liquid is boiling, add those crimson beauties.


Boil together at a reduced heat for 10 min.

Slowly reducing...


Mix in your zest and ginger

Stir it all together and let cool completely.



Then portion it into your choice jars/containers

And enjoy for months to come :)

What's your favorite way to eat cranberries?
I urge you to try 'em on more than just the seasonal bird.
They deserve far more recognition than the once-a-year obligatory placement on the dinner table.

Trust me.

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