All About Cranberries Cranberries are small, round, piquant fruits cultivated in bogs or peat swamps in North America. This plump, firm member of the berry family has red skin and a tart flavor.
Pick Your Berries Fresh cranberries generally are sold bagged, but you can check for good quality by looking for cranberries that are firm to the touch with a smooth, shiny, dark red color. The red color will vary from light to dark; the deepness of the color does not affect quality. Avoid any that are soft, squishy, or blemished.
Storing Cranberries Cranberries will last up to 2 months stored in plastic bags in your refrigerator. Be sure to remove any soft or decaying berries before storing. To freeze for longer storage, place unopened bags of cranberries in the freezer. For bulk cranberries, wash under cold running water, let dry, and freeze in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. When frozen, transfer to resealable plastic bags and store in the freezer.
Cooking with Cranberries In addition to fresh cranberries, you can find dried sweetened cranberries that are often used for snacks, salads, and baked goods, as well as a delicious alternative to raisins. Cranberry sauce is an almost required side dish at Thanksgiving dinners -- the tart flavor paired with sweeter ingredients is an ideal complement to poultry dishes such as turkey. Cranberries also can be used to make chutneys or pressed for cranberry juice. Often described as a "superfruit," cranberries contain vitamin C, fiber, and manganese.
Preparation Hint: Because chopping cranberries by hand can be tedious, try chopping them -- a few cups at a time -- in your food processor. You'll get about 3 cups of chopped berries from a 12-ounce package.