Cranberries are a native North American fruit. They were first cultivated in 1815 in Massachusetts. There are several varieties of cranberries including: American, European, Mountain, and Highbush.
Cranberries are mostly grown as a commercial crop. They grow best in zones 2 through 5 as they do not like extremes of heat or cold. Cranberries require acidic boggy fertile soil in which to grow. Before planting the ground is leveled and dikes are constructed around the beds to allow for flooding. The best way to propagate cranberries is through the use of cuttings. Typically it takes between 3 and 5 years before the vines will produce fruit. The cranberry bogs are flooded during winter and allowed to freeze as a protection measure.
Cranberries can be grown by the home gardener; however, it requires much preparation. First the bed must be prepared to at least 8 inches in depth. The bed should then be lined with plastic which has been perforated to allow for drainage. Fill the hole with peat moss or coir and then wet to pack it down. Continue the process of adding peat moss and wetting it until the hole is filled. Next the soil must be amended by adding one part rock phosphate, 1 part blood meal, and 1/2 part bone meal. Plant 1 year old plants about 1 foot apart being sure to keep them adequately watered. The plants should be fed with a fish emulsion every month. Every second year add a layer of sand to the bed to help with drainage.
Cranberry Nutritional Values
Cranberry Serving size 1/2 cup (48g)
Amounts Per Serving % Daily Value
Calories from Fat 0
Total Fat 0g 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 10%
Health Benefits of Cranberries
Cranberries contain the unique antioxidant called proanthocyanidins (PACs) which help to prevent free radical damage. PACs also help support cardiovascular health and may help decrease the risk of certain type of cancer. Cranberries also can aid in preventing and treating urinary tract infections by preventing E. coli from adhering. They also can help in preventing H. pylori from adhering to the stomach which can help with the prevention of stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.
Getting the Most Out of Your Cranberries
Cranberries may be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months or in the freezer for up to 1 year. When using frozen cranberries it is important to cook from frozen.
Many people find cranberries too tart to eat raw. Besides the obvious juice cranberries make wonderful sauces, compotes, and relishes. Fresh and frozen cranberries also are great additions to muffins and pies. Cranberries should only be cooked just until they pop as overcooking can result in a bitter result. Dried cranberries are also a great snack.
Cranberry Concerns and Cautions
It is important to wash cranberries well before consuming.
Because cranberries are a good source of Vitamin C one should be aware of their total Vitamin C intake in order to reduce the risk of diarrhea.