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Craving Cranberry This Winter

Kate Hamilton December 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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Originally called the “crane berry” because of the shape of its blossoms, cranberries have a deep-rooted history in North America. Most likely served at the original Thanksgiving dinner, the first documented harvest has been traced to 1816 on Cape Cod in Dennis, Massachusetts. Native Americans used the fruit as a food source, a medicinal cure, and a dye for blankets and rugs. All of this nostalgia not only inspires me to reach for a tall glass of juice, but also to learn more about American cuisine traditions.



Cranberries are one of three commercially important fruits native to North America—blueberries and Concord grapes also are indigenous to the continent. Commonly thought to grow in water, cranberries mature on vines in sandy bogs and marshes where water is used as a means of irrigation and insect control, as well as to protect the plant from weather damage. Many growers flood their crops in order to use water-reel harvesting machines instead of handpicking.

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Cranberry Quick Facts


  • Because of small pockets of air inside the cavity of the fruit, cranberries bounce, lending them the nickname “bounceberries.” They also float in water, which is key to one method by which the crop is harvested.
  • In the United States, nearly 400 million pounds of cranberries are consumed each year, with 20% of those being eaten during the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Pemmican—a mixture of dried cranberries, dried meat, cornmeal and fat—was made into cakes carried by Native Americans on long journeys as a durable food source.
  • There are four major varieties of cranberries, including mountain, highbush, European and American—the most common in the United States, with the characteristic of bright red coloring.
  • During World War II, about 1 million pounds of dehydrated cranberries were required by American troops each year.

Spa Cuisine Recipe: Cranberry Apple Crisp

Cranberry Apple Crisp

From Eleanor Brown, food consultant, at The Oaks at Ojai in Ojai, California

Makes 14 servings

1/2 cup apple juice concentrate

1⁄2 tablespoon arrowroot

3 cups fresh cranberries, washed

3 cups Granny Smith or Newtown pippin apples, sliced

1 tablespoon brown rice flour

1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon

1⁄2 cup rolled oats

1⁄4 cup Grape-Nuts1

2 tablespoons apple juice concentrate

French cream, nonfat yogurt or low-calorie sour cream

1 Grape-Nuts is a registered trade name of Kraft Foods, Northfield, IL.

1. Combine 1⁄2 cup apple juice concentrate and arrowroot, and whisk together in a medium saucepan. Stir over low heat to thicken. Mixture will be thick and clear. Microwave option: Combine in a 4-cup glass measuring cup, and microwave for 2 minutes, until thick.

2. Toss cranberries, apple slices, brown rice flour and cinnamon with the apple syrup mixture. Place in a 9” x 12” baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray.

3. Toss rolled oats, Grape-Nuts and remaining 2 tablespoons of apple juice concentrate together in a small bowl to moisten cereal. Sprinkle over cranberry apple mixture.

4. Bake at 350˚ F for 40 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Serve warm or chilled. Top with French cream, nonfat yogurt or low-calorie sour cream.

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