How to Cook with Fresh Cranberries

Get inspired to use fresh, seasonal cranberries in your kitchen with these 6 exerts tips on how to cook with fresh cranberries, along with a bunch of top plant-based healthy cranberry recipes too.

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 Fresh Cranberries in their Raw Form. Fresh cranberries in their raw form can be added to just about anything—grain bowls, oatmeal, beverages, hummus—to give that crisp, tart, tangy bite we so love. Just remember that those raw cranberries can have a tart flavor, so make sure to include naturally sweet additions—other fruits, dried fruits, a touch of maple syrup—to balance out the taste.

Oat Cranberry Pilaf with Pistachios

2. Cook with Fresh Cranberries. Try throwing a handful of fresh cranberries into a number of cooked recipes, such as hot cereal, side dishes, veggie patties, and desserts. Just remember that you may need to add a tad bit more natural sweetening power—dried figs or raisins, bananas, applesauce—in some recipes to make up for that tart taste.

Try adding fresh cranberries to a salad, such as this recipe for Butternut Squash Kale Barley Salad.

3. Toss Cranberries Up. Try tossing some fresh cranberries into your next salad bowl—from grain and pasta salads to veggie and fruit salads—for a crispy, tangy kick.

Use fresh cranberries in your next smoothie, such as this recipe for Pomegranate Mandarin Smoothie.

4. Whiz those Cranberries Up. Throw some fresh cranberries into your next 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 one 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. 

Try frozen fresh cranberries in this recipe for Vegan Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies.

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. Try a few of my favorite cranberry recipes all year long, such as Rosemary Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing, Oat Cranberry Pilaf with Pistachios, and Cranberry Green Tea.

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


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