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What Are Cranberries?

Cranberries are a popular ingredient and snack. These are native to North America and were already enjoyed by the Native Americans. They also enjoy a special and traditional place on the Thanksgiving table, as the cranberry sauce served right next to the roasted turkey. Aside from this, dried cranberries can be used in baked goods, sprinkled on cereal and oatmeal, or used in energy bars.

The first person to actually have a commercial cranberry farm is Captain Henry Hall, who set it up in the early 1800s. Today the United States and Canada are the leading exporters of cranberry (most of the harvest comes from the cities of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington, Quebec, and British Columbia).

Cranberry vines are known to be quite hardy and can survive as long as 150 years. The berries can be harvested “wet” . Here the beds are flooded with water, and the branches shaken to release the ripe berries which float to the surface. The berries can also be harvested “dry” using special machines. Harvest season usually begins in September and ends in October.

Cranberries are a rich source of cancer-fighting anti-oxidants. They also contain many vitamins and fiber. Research by the Harvard Medical School and Rutgers University also show that cranberry juice is one of the best ways of preventing urinary tract infections (a practice that actually dates back to the early 1900s) because it prevents bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract. There is also some evidence to show that cranberry juice can help prevent ulcers.

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