The holidays are upon us. It is the time for giving thanks, exchanging gifts, and believe it or not, harvesting cranberries. What better time to discuss this little, red, tart and tangy berry than now?
Cranberries are popular fall crops usually grown in the northern states of New Jersey, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington. They are also popularly grown in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and Quebec. The cranberries used in Simply Dara’s Cranberry Almond RAW BALLS® are Canadian grown cranberries.
Cranberries are grown on low bushes in sandy bogs. In the fall, from mid-September to mid-November, growers flood the bogs with water and use agitators to release the delicate berries from their vines. The berries float to the top of the water, get scooped up and bagged. The next stop is either to processing plants or packaging plants, depending on the purpose of each crop.
Some growers prefer to use the dry harvesting method. In this case, a picker resembling a bagging lawn mower carefully scrapes the berries from the vine. The bagger scoops them up and they proceed on down to the packaging line. From there, the berries head to processing. Whatever manner of harvest is used, maintaining the integrity of the berry and the vine is the number one objective.
Cranberries have a high nutritional value. In the raw form, they are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. They are good sources of vitamin E, vitamin K. dietary fiber, vitamin C and manganese. One cup of raw cranberries is on average only 51 calories per serving. That same cup of raw berries also contains zero cholesterol and only 2 mg of sodium. When sugar is added to their processing, the calorie and fat values of cranberries do increase. The best way to use a cranberry is cooked or dried with no added sugar.
Cranberries have long been rumored to have certain health benefits. Cranberry compounds were supposed to help cure and prevent urinary tract infections. In reality, there is no positive evidence proving that this is true. It is also said that raw cranberries may benefit the cardiovascular and immune systems. Unfortunately, there is no confirmation yet from human studies for these claims. One thing that is definite about cranberries is that they are high in antioxidants, which protect the body from any free radical damage.
Now that you know a little about cranberries, be sure to use them in some of your own dishes or create a few new ones. Though they are popular at the holidays, remember they are a tasty, healthy berry for use all year around. Our Cranberry Almond RAW BALLS are also available all year.