Thanksgiving and cranberries. Growing up that meant jellied cranberry sauce right out of the can, indentations from the rings in the can still showing. I have to admit I wasn’t a fan of cranberries. Especially when there was such an assortment of other goodies on the table.

As I began cooking my own holiday dinners, I discovered fresh cranberries and started experimenting with these in various dishes. I discovered that their crisp, tart flavor was a great compliment to the heavy dishes that often cover the Thanksgiving table.

And don’t forget the dried cranberries which add a distinct sweet-tart flavor to everything from quick breads and oatmeal to stuffing and roasted vegetables.

For me, the cranberry has come a long way and I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving feast without cranberries in one form or another.

Here are some of my favorite cranberry recipes:

Tart Cranberry Sauce

4 cups fresh cranberries

1/4 cup water

2 tart apples, unpeeled, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup honey

Cook cranberries in water for 8 minutes or until they start to pop. Add apples and continue cooking until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in honey and spices. Makes 3 1/2 cups.

Pineapple Cranberry Salad (from Cooking Light)

1 20 oz can crushed pineapple, undrained

2 4-serving size raspberry gelatin

1 16 oz whole berry cranberry sauce

1 apple, chopped

2/3 cup walnut halves, chopped

fresh mint

apple slices

Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Remove 1 tbsp. pineapple; set aside. Add enough cold water to juice to measure 3 cups; pour into saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Add dry gelatin mixes; stir 2 minutes. Stir in cranberry sauce. Pour into large bowl. Refrigerate 1 1/2 hours or until slightly thickened. Stir in pineapple, apples and walnuts. Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. Garnish with reserved pineapple, sliced apple and fresh mint.

Banana Cranberry Bread

2 bananas, mashed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 cup dried cranberries

1 teaspoon orange zest

Preheat oven to 350. Spray loaf pan with non-stick spray. Combine bananas, sugar, brown sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl and beat until creamy. Combine dry ingredients. Stir the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk into the banana mixture, mixing only until combined. Stir in cranberries and orange rind. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool in the pan.

Cranberry Apple Bake

4 cups fresh cranberries

4 large red apples, diced with skin on

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup butter, melted

Mix cranberries, apples and sugar. Place in greased 9 x 13 pan. Mix oats, brown sugar and flour. Pour over fruit. Drizzle butter over top. Bake at 325 for 1 hour.

Do you have a topic you’d like reading about? Would you like to share your favorite cranberry recipe? Email chef Karen at or comment at Everyday Gourmet Aiken on Facebook and your suggestion may be featured in her next article!

Karen Tempel, an aspiring chef since she could reach the countertops, has been delighting friends and family with tempting treats for most of her life. She is the owner of Everyday Gourmet, a custom caterer in the Aiken area. Visit her website at or email her at

Cranberry Trivia

• By November, nearly all of the cranberry crop has been harvested. Millions and millions of the little hard, tart ruby berries grown in the bogs of Cape Cod (Massachusetts), New Jersey, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, and the Maritime Provinces of Canada have been bagged fresh or earmarked for juice or canned sauce.

• The cranberry is a genuine Native American, Vaccinium macrocarpon, a member of the heath family and a relative of the blueberry and huckleberry.

• The Pequot Indians of Cape Cod called the berry ibimi, meaning bitter berry, and combined crushed cranberries with dried venison and fat to make pemmican.

• The Pilgrims and those who followed appreciated the wild berries but did not start to cultivate them until 1816, when a bog was planted and tended in Dennis on Cape Cod. By then, American and Canadian sailors on long voyages knew they could eat cranberries to protect themselves from scurvy-making them a cranberry counterpart to British “limeys.”

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