Because I’m of a certain age, cranberry juice always reminds me of my first year of university when I, along with the greater part of my school’s female population, became obsessed with the show Sex and the City and by extension, drinking cosmos. For the uninitiated, cosmopolitan martinis were the drink of choice for our favourite foursome – Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda – and during the height of SATC’s fame, these drinks were everywhere. Alas, many years have since passed and I can’t stand the drink now, even the sight of it is enough to give me a hangover for days but there was a time when I thought it was the bees knees. I’m telling you this because in spite of my aversion to cosmos, I still quite like cranberry juice (if you can find pure cranberry juice and not the cocktails, which are high in sugar and offered at most supermarkets). Then again, it all comes down to the fact that I love cranberries, which – you guessed it – are this month’s featured ingredient!
In season during the fall months, cranberries are a small but mighty fruit with many health benefits. High in vitamin C, something that contributes to keeping you healthy during the flu season, cranberries also possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that aid in good overall health. Additionally, cranberries have medicinal purposes and have been a traditional staple in Native American diets for hundreds of years, both as food and medicine. Even now, cranberries, with their acidic properties can be used to help keep your urinary tract healthy and prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), which are not fun for anyone – a fact that’s long been known. Research also suggests that cranberries have the ability to lower cancer risk and control body weight, so that’s pretty impressive if you ask me.
All of this is making me sound like some sort of cranberry braggart. Honestly though, I don’t consume a lot of cranberry in my diet (I like it a lot when I do get the chance) but it’s something I would like to change. Usually my cranberry consumption comes in the form of cranberry tea, cranberry with oatmeal, dried cranberry in baked goods, and sometimes cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Beyond that, I’m not sure what there is to do, especially in terms of savoury recipes which is what I tend to gravitate towards. I’ve done a quick search and there are a few great suggestions here and here so it’s a good start for my exploration but I’m not entirely sure of what to expect yet. Cranberries are tart and sometimes a little sour, so many of the recipes you find tend to call for a lot of added sugar, which is something I want to avoid. Aside from trying to cut down on my sugar intake in general, I don’t want to detract from what I think is a nice flavour.
Unlike last month’s pumpkin disaster, I am cautiously optimistic that I’ll be much more successful with cranberries, perhaps because these crimson red berries seem far less intimidating than a gigantic pumpkin. Ah, but haven’t we heard that before? We shall see; maybe I’ll fall so deeply in love with cranberries that I’ll even make it up to the Bala Cranberry Festival! Wish me luck.