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How to Cook with Fresh Cranberries

Sharon Palmer

Learn how to use fresh cranberries in your kitchen with these 6 tips on how to cook with fresh cranberries.

Have you ever seen those bags of fresh cranberries in the supermarket in the fall, and wondered what to do with them? Well, the short answer is: a lot! When you see bags of fresh cranberries available, scoop them up. Cranberries are seasonal and available for only a short period of time when they are fresh.

Native to North America, cranberries have a long history of celebration and cultivation in American culture, which is why they have an important place at the holiday table. They are grown throughout the North East and North West. Cranberries don’t grow under water, as many people mistakenly believe—water is used during harvest to float the fruit and to protect plants from freezing. Numerous studies have shown that cranberries provide health benefits, possibly due to their flavonoid and phytonutrient content, which may offer benefits for the oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract and urinary tract, as well as to help fight heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. So, take advantage of fresh cranberries while you can, with these 6 tips on how to cook with fresh cranberries.

6 Tips for Using Fresh Cranberries

Cranberry Pear Steel Cut Oats

1. Use Them Fresh. Fresh cranberries can be added to just about anything—grain bowls, oatmeal, beverages, hummus—to give that tart, tangy bite we so love.

Oat Cranberry Pilaf with Pistachios

2. Cook with Them. I enjoy using fresh cranberries in hot cereal, side dishes, and desserts. Just remember that you may need to add a tad bit more sweetener to make up for that sour taste.

Pistachio Turmeric Rice Bowl

3. Toss Them Up. Toss fresh cranberries in your next green or grain salad bowl for a tangy kick.

4. Whiz Them Up. Throw some fresh cranberries in your smoothie to add a brilliant cranberry red shade, and potent health properties.

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish

5. Make the Best Cranberry Relish Ever. Here’s the trick to making an amazing fresh cranberry relish for your holiday table or to accompany savory dishes: Cook 1 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries with the juice and zest of 1 fresh orange, ¼ cup pure maple syrup, and a pinch of cinnamon for 8 minutes. Get the recipe for Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish here

6. Pop Them in the Freezer. You can just pop that whole bag of fresh cranberries—no pre-prep required—in the freezer to pull out and enjoy all year long. Then use frozen cranberries in any recipe that calls for fresh. 

Learn how to use other plant foods with these guides:

How to Make Vegan Sour Cream
How to Make Veggie Sushi
How to Make Pear Sauce

Here are a few more of my favorite fresh or frozen cranberry recipes:

Cranberry Apple Hazelnut Crumble
Vegan Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

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