For years we only used fresh cranberries as decorations, either stringing them for the tree or pilling them in a beautiful bowl. They have a gorgeous color and add a very festive cheer around the house during the holidays, but I think I missed an opportunity during all those years to add these berries to our menu since these berries are very nutritious. I have read they have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits and are a good source of vitamin C and dietary fiber.
But have you ever bit into a raw cranberry? I was brave once and tried just one and as my lips puckered, I knew that I couldn't ever imagine myself serving or eating a raw cranberry until now.
When I was growing up the only way I ever ate any kind of cranberries was in that canned cranberry sauce around Thanksgiving. You know, that jellied stuff that your mom would cut out both ends of the cranberry sauce can and slide the entire contents out, then slice it to accompany your Thanksgiving turkey? I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, I still love that stuff and our favorite way to serve it is on our chicken or turkey sandwiches.
But in the last few years we have expanded our horizons and we begin cooking with cranberries either in muffins or in homemade cranberry sauce and we have even tried dehydrating them. It still amazes me that when cranberries are cooked or dehydrated the little berries totally change from bitter to sweet and delicious, you know one of the mysteries of nature. But as in most fruits or veggies, some of the nutrients are lost in the cooking process so it's a trade off.
Raw cranberries can be chopped and sparingly added in a variety of dishes such as in a spinach salad, in a chicken salad or topped over yogurt where the tart taste accents the dish but not overwhelms it.
But since raw cranberries are so bitter, the best option is to add some sweetness to them such as sugar or by mixing them with sweeter fruits. This way the health benefits are not reduced and they are more pleasing to the palate.
This Cranberry Salad with Pineapples and Marshmallows is made with fresh cranberries which adds just the right touch to a otherwise too sweet fruit salad. And by mixing them with sugar and left standing overnight, it mitigates the bitter of the cranberries but leaves the health benefits. I think its the Mary Poppins theory we knew as children, "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down". But the real reason I make this salad is that it is delicious with just the right clash of bitter and sweet flavor plus it's just gorgeous.
It's so sad that I only make it during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays but that's the only time I can find fresh cranberries in my local market. I do have cravings for it all year long and it's always been a hit here on the Ranch and of course we think it's the best way to eat fresh cranberries.
(Don't forget to scroll to the bottom for other cranberry recipes)
Cranberry Salad with Pineapples and Marshmallows
- 1 package of Fresh Cranberries
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 15.5 oz can of crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 package of miniature marshmallows
- 1 cup of chopped pecans
- 1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream, whipped
1. Coarsely chop cranberries in a food processor
2. Place chopped cranberries, sugar and marshmallows in a plastic bowl and mix well, cover and let set in fridge overnight
3. Remove from fridge and add the pineapple, and pecans and fold in the whipped cream
4. Store covered in fridge until ready to serve.
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