Cranberries are similar to olives and artichokes in the sense that each of these fruits must be altered from their raw stage to create a product that is truly palatable for human consumption. Raw Cranberries are glossy and scarlet red in appearance, firm in texture with a bitter, starchy and tart flavor. Once juiced, cooked and processed, Cranberries display the perfect sweet-tart ratio that is both quenching and nostalgically satisfying. The best fresh Cranberries are not only firm to the touch but have a bouncing quality that is actually tested during harvest. The highest quality Cranberries will bounce freely off a hardened surface.
Fresh Cranberries have a peak season in winter.
Cranberries, botanically known as Vaccinium macrocarpon, are the fruit of a deep rooted evergreen shrub trailing plant of the genus, Vaccinium, the same genus that contains the blueberry plant. The Cranberry received its original name, 'Crane berry' as a result of the plant's flower abstractly resembling the head of the Sand crane, which frequented the bogs that the Cranberry plants were found growing in within Northeastern United States.
Cranberries are well known for and continue to be heavily researched for the health benefits they provide. They are loaded with antioxidants, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. They contain high levels of phytonutrients, which provide their intense red coloring. These phytonutrients are actually enhanced by sunlight exposure, thus, inadvertently the method of harvesting floating Cranberries allows the Cranberries to develop greater concentrations of the antioxidant, anthocyanin. It is important to note, Cranberries must be eaten in a non-processed form to provide the highest level of health benefits. Processing disrupts the antioxidant combination and decreases their level of synergistic benefits.