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Add cheer to the holidays with fresh cranberries
Some Kinda Good
cranberry gingerbread cake
Some Kinda Good Cranberry Gingerbread Cake with “snow-capped” trees makes a show stopping dessert. Fresh cranberries can be used to decorate cakes, pop into festive drinks or for making fresh cranberry sauce. - photo by Photo by REBEKAH FAULK LINGENFELSER/special

Every year around the holidays, I buy a bag of fresh cranberries. They’re great for decorating cakes, popping into festive drinks and boiling on the stovetop to make fresh cranberry sauce. Now that November is here, the countdown to Thanksgiving is officially on, and I found a few fun facts to share on this fascinating fruit native to North America, and some recipe ideas I hope you’ll find useful during the holidays.

When it comes to dried cranberries, I use them throughout the year in salads to add a pop of sweetness and color. There’s also an easy raw Brussels sprouts salad that I love using dried cranberries in too. The sprouts are pulsed in the food processor and tossed with lemon zest, dried cranberries, fresh chives and toasted pine nuts. Yum.

Around the holidays though, fresh cranberries take center stage.

Did you know?

--If you lined up all the cranberries produced in North America, the line would stretch from Los Angeles to Boston 565 times.

--Americans consume 400 million pounds of cranberries every year. Twenty percent of that amount (80 million pounds) are consumed during the week of Thanksgiving.

--It takes approximately 200 cranberries to make a can of cranberry sauce.

Cranberries are typically in season from October until December

--Only about 5% of cranberries are sold fresh, while the rest are turned into cranberry juice, sauce, etc.

--Cranberries are 90% water, and contain pockets of air. These air pockets cause the cranberries to float (perfect for adding into a glass of celebratory champagne for brunch).

There are some strong opinions out there about fresh cranberry sauce vs. canned, and no matter which team you’re on, you’ve got to have this classic accompaniment on turkey day. I grew up eating canned cranberry sauce and I must admit, seeing the little ridges from the imprint of the can sliced up and presented on a pretty dish is nostalgic for me. The fresh stuff is good too, but let’s be honest: it’s a different experience altogether.

I enjoy making fresh cranberry sauce because it’s easy and smells so good while cooking on the stove top. The lemon juice is the star ingredient in this recipe, inspired by the one and only Ina Garten. The diced apple adds a bit of tartness and texture, the sugar helps to balance the tartness of the cranberries and the citrus juice and zest brighten all the flavors. I use cranberry juice instead of water to reinforce the flavor of cranberry. The cranberries simmering on the stovetop really sets the mood for the holidays.

If you’ve never tried it before, be my guest. Once it reduces and congeals, it thickens into a nice spread for sandwiches, dips and as a topping for turkey. Enjoy!

Some Kinda Good Fresh Cranberry Sauce

  • One 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup cranberry juice

Cook the cranberries, sugar, and 1 cup of cranberry juice in a saucepan over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the skins pop open. Add the apple, zests, and juices and cook for 20 – 25 more minutes until liquid has reduced. Remove from the heat, let cool, and refrigerate. Serve chilled.

Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a private chef and the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in season. 

Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit

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