LAKEVILLE-MIDDLEBORO, Mass., Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- While today almost every fruit and vegetable is available year-round, there has been a resurgence in eating seasonally and understanding when and how food is grown. One of the few fresh fruits available only in the fall, cranberries are bouncing back (yes, cranberries bounce!) into grocery stores this fall season.
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Americans consume some 400 million pounds of cranberries each year, with 20 percent, roughly 80 million pounds, consumed Thanksgiving week. While cranberries can be enjoyed all year long, the taste of fresh, whole berries are unique to this time of year, available only from October through December.
"There is something special about enjoying the fruits of our labor after the harvest season and adding fresh cranberries to our favorite family recipes each fall," said Heidi Dobbs, fourth-generation Ocean Spray cranberry grower. "The harvest is a gorgeous time of year but made all the more satisfying when we actually get to bring the fresh berries back into the kitchen!"
Harvesting the Cranberry
Although Ocean Spray® cranberry sauce has been a staple on America's Thanksgiving tables for the last 80 years, most Americans are still unfamiliar with how this classic American fruit is grown. While the first crop was harvested back in 1816, there's still a lot to learn about the cranberry and Ocean Spray!
- Many people don't realize that Ocean Spray is a cooperative, owned by the same folks who harvest the cranberries. More than 700 families strong, the cooperative is comprised of third-, fourth- and fifth-generation growers – one family has been harvesting cranberries for more than 138 years. Visit www.oceanspray.com/heritage to meet the growers and learn more.
- Cranberries are unique to five regions in America – Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and also parts of British Columbia and Quebec. Since cranberry bogs are only found in select regions and must be surrounded by acres of forests to support the ecological balance, most people have never seen a bog or even know what one is.
- Every year, when cranberries reach their peak color and flavor, distinct dry and wet harvest methods are used to pick the fruit. The dry harvest produces fresh, whole berries that are only sold as fresh produce in the fall while cranberries from the wet harvest are used to produce juice, sauce and Ocean Spray's® Craisins® Dried Cranberries.
- If you strung all the cranberries produced in North America last year, they would stretch from Boston to Los Angeles more than 565 times.
- If all the cranberry bogs in North America were put together, they would comprise an area equal in size to the island of Nantucket, which is approximately 47 square miles.
- The darkest cranberries typically come from Oregon because of the longer growing season on the Pacific Coast.
- Fresh cranberries can be stored in the freezer for up to one year, allowing your favorite fresh and savory dishes to be present on your table all year long.
Eating the Cranberry
By enjoying produce in season, as Mother Nature intended, consumers take full advantage of the taste good, good for you benefits of the cranberry, while the fruit is at its peak in both flavor and nutrients. Adding cranberries to dishes this fall is a great way to meet the recommended two or more serving of fruit daily with the bonus of its healthy antioxidant properties.
The uniquely tart flavor of fresh, whole cranberries can also add a festive twist to the table and zip up any recipe – from traditional to exotic and from sweet to savory. For some inspiration, check out the recipes below and visit www.oceanspray.com for more.
GLISTENING COCONUT CRANBERRY TART
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut up
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2 to 3 teaspoons water
2 cups Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/3 cup toasted sweetened flaked coconut *
Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray and line outside of pan with foil. Combine flour and 1 tablespoon sugar in medium bowl. With pastry blender or two knives cut in butter until coarse crumbs form. Stir in coconut then stir in 2 teaspoons water adding additional water if necessary to moisten mixture. Press crust into bottom and up sides of pan, flouring dough and fingers if necessary.
Bake at 375°F. 9 to 12 minutes or until set. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Cool completely on wire rack.
Meanwhile, cook cranberries, 1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, covered, until the sugar melts. Cool slightly, stir in flour and orange peel. Pour into baked crust.
Bake at 350°F. 45 to 50 minutes or until the filling is bubbling on the edges and in the center. Cover the crust edge with foil halfway through baking if getting too dark. Cool completely on wire rack. Sprinkle the toasted coconut around the outside edge of cranberries.
* To toast coconut, place on a sheet pan in 350°F oven for 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly brown, watching carefully.
Makes 8 servings
EASY HOMEMADE CRANBERRY SAUCE
With Ocean Spray® Fresh Cranberries, sugar and water, making cranberry sauce from scratch is as easy as 1-2-3. The following instructions will yield 2 1/4 cups of sauce, which will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
1 12 oz. bag Ocean Spray® Fresh Cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Pour one 12 oz. bag of Ocean Spray® Fresh Cranberries into a colander. Rinse well with cold water, then sort out any stems or soft berries. (Frozen cranberries can be used as well; you don't need to thaw them before using.)
Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then carefully stir in cranberries. Return the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour the cranberry mixture into a heat-proof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until cooled completely, 2-3 hours. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Store sauce in refrigerator until ready to serve.
About Ocean Spray
Ocean Spray is an agricultural cooperative owned by more than 600 cranberry growers in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and other parts of Canada as well as more than 50 Florida grapefruit growers. Ocean Spray was formed over 75 years ago by three cranberry growers from Massachusetts and New Jersey. Florida grapefruit growers joined the Cooperative in 1976. Ocean Spray is North America's leading producer of canned and bottled juices and juice drinks, and has been the best-selling brand name in the canned and bottled juice category since 1981. Ocean Spray posted fiscal 2008 sales of $1.9 billion.
SOURCE Ocean Spray