The ruby red jewels of fall: cranberries

Tips for storing and preparing the holiday favorite.

The leaves are falling and the frost has nipped the pumpkins; it must be fall. Looking ahead to the holiday season, the bright ruby red jewels of the season should soon be appearing. What? Cranberries of course!

To select the best cranberries for you holiday table, look for firm, plump, shiny ones. The color will range from a bright light red to a dark red. Avoid choosing cranberries that are soft and shriveled.

When storing the cranberries, you can store them unwashed in a re-sealable plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two months. Watch over them. Be sure to get rid of any berries that start to decay, otherwise before you know it the whole bag will have gone mushy.

Wash the cranberries just before using them in cold running water and pick out the decayed or shriveled ones.

To freeze cranberries, put the rinsed cranberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the freezer for one hour. Remove them and put them in a plastic re-sealable bag for storage up to one year.

Cranberries can be canned in heavy syrup as well. They can be made into a variety of side dishes. It is possible to make cranberry sauce and cranberry orange chutney. These can be canned for use at holiday time or even later into the year. When canning, always use a standardized canning recipe (canning information can be found in the food preservation section of the Michigan State Unversity Extension website). For a nutritious snack try home-dried cranberries as a treat.

It is the fall season look for those ruby red jewels. No holiday table will complete without cranberries.

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