Did you know that Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries in the United States? So, it’s no surprise that these bright, Badger :) red berries are also the official state fruit of Wisconsin. Although cranberries are a little tart, please don’t let that intimidate you! These locally-grown berries can be used in a variety of ways to make delicious dishes, like our Cranberry Cheddar Meatballs with Fresh Cranberry Sauce (recipes below), and they are packed with nutrition! Nutrition Cranberries contain a powerful blend of antioxidants that help protect the body from harmful, free radicals. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C and dietary fiber.
Selection When selecting fresh cranberries, choose plump, unblemished fruit and avoid any cranberries that appear soft, shriveled or have a dull appearance. Color will often vary from light to dark red; however, variations in cranberries’ color do not typically indicate differences in quality.
Storage You can store fresh cranberries in the refrigerator for up to two months or freeze them for future use.
Preparation Just before cooking, rinse cranberries in cold water and remove any stems or bruised fruit. If using frozen cranberries, avoid thawing them beforehand to prevent losing crispness. If a recipe calls for chopped cranberries and you’re looking to save time, try chopping cranberries, a few cups at a time, in a food processor.
Cooking Methods Fresh cranberries are a little tart, so they are often sweetened with sugar or other fruits during the cooking process. To cook, simply boil cranberries in water and wait until the outer skins burst, or the berries “pop.” Ways to Enjoy Cranberries
Because cranberries are so versatile and full of flavor, our dietitian team enjoys using these nutritious berries in a variety of dishes. Here are just some of our favorite cranberry recipes:
- Cranberry-Almond Quinoa Pilaf
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Pecan Crunch
- Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
- Slow Cooker Apple Cranberry Sauce
- Cranberry Poached Pears
- Cranberry Avocado Salsa
- Sweet Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Roasted Cranberries with Thyme
And, we just love the flavor explosion in our Cranberry Cheddar Meatballs! With tangy cranberries, sharp cheddar, savory turkey sausage and sweet fresh cranberry sauce, these seasonally-flavored bites are sure to be hit on any holiday party menu.
Sweets, Snacks & Sides:
Cranberry Cheddar Meatballs
1 lb. lean sweet Italian turkey sausage
⅓ cup fresh cranberries, chopped (or frozen cranberries, thawed)
1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese (or Daiya® Cheddar-Style Shreds for dairy free)
2 Tbsp. minced shallots
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. baking powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with a spatula or your hands until the ingredients fully incorporated.
- Roll the mixture into balls and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes.
- Serve with cranberry sauce (below) for dipping.
Yield: 8 Servings
*Per Serving: Calories 180, Total Fat 11g (Saturated 4.5g, Trans 0g), Cholesterol 55mg, Sodium 400mg, Total Carbohydrate 6g (Dietary Fiber 1g), Protein 15g, Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 2%, Calcium 10%, Iron 2%
Fresh Cranberry Sauce
Ingredients: 8 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries 8 oz. crushed pineapple ½ cup 100% orange juice Stevia sweetener (or sugar), to taste
- Rinse cranberries under running water.
- Place cranberries, crushed pineapple and orange juice in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium-high heat, and simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When cranberries burst, use the back of a fork or spoon to smash about ½ of them, so you create a chunky paste.
- Add the sweetener, to taste, and allow to cook 10-12 more minutes.
- Transfer sauce to a glass bowl with a lid and allow to cool in the refrigerator.
- Serve and enjoy!
Yield: 8 servings
Per Serving*: Calories 60, Total Fat 0g (Saturated 0g, Trans 0g), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 0mg, Total Carbohydrate 15g (Dietary Fiber 2g, Sugars 5g), Protein 0g, Vitamin A 0%, Vitamin C 15%, Calcium 2%, Iron 2%
*Nutritional values are an approximation. Actual nutritional values may vary due to preparation techniques, variations related to suppliers, regional and seasonal differences, or rounding.
Emily Schwartz is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with Festival Foods.