What Are Cranberries?

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Cranberries are small berries that belong to the same family as blueberries.
They are mainly grown in the Northern Hemisphere of Canada and United States, as well an in Europe.
They are very popular in the United States and Canada for making cranberry sauce during the holidays of Christmas and Thanksgiving.
This is usually the time of year when they are ready to be harvested, and thus they are perfect to go with the turkey dinners during these feasts and celebrations.
The cranberries grow on the vines of low ground-covering bushes.
These vines can grow as long as 2 meters, and can range from 5 to 20 cm high.
Some vines will grow runners which can produce short upright branches that range between 5 to 7.
5 cm high.
The berries are white when they first begin to grow, but then as they ripen they turn into a deep red color.
Harvest Cranberries can be harvested using two different methods.
One method is to flood the cranberry beds with water and then shake the vines with a tool to loosen them.
The cranberries will float to the top so they can be gathered onto trucks.
The other method is to gently rake the berries from the vines with a machine.
This method of harvesting them does not require any flooding, but it does take more work.
Most cranberries are harvested in September and October.
However, they are hardy and are able to withstand the frost so that harvesting can continue into December.
About 95 percent of all commercially grown cranberries are dried, or processed into cranberry juices and sauces.
The other 5 percent are sold fresh in their raw state.
Essential Nutrients The berries are popular for their high amounts of antioxidants, phytochemicals, micro-nutrients, poly-phenols, probiotics and dietary fiber.
In more detail, these berries contain beta carotene, which converts into vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin niacin, folate, B vitamins as well as vitamin C, E and K.
The essential minerals that these berries contain include potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, sodium, selenium, manganese, copper and zinc.
The beneficial acids found in these berries are quinic, hipuric, citric, malic, ellagic and pantothenic.
The Taste The taste of cranberries is quite bitter or sour, and thus they are usually not consumed raw.
However, they are great for making cranberry sauce, cranberry juice, as well as for making cranberry tea.
The berries can be frozen in the freezer in their raw state and used when they are needed.
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