Seasonal Spotlight on Cranberries

Warning: Not for the faint of tart.

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Cranberry closeup top view. Organic beries over wooden background.

Photo by: AnnaBreit


Cranberries most often are featured on the Thanksgiving table, but there's so much more to the cold weather berry than cranberry sauce. Fresh cranberries have a bright, sour-tart flavor that makes a great addition to seasonal fare.

Harvested from mid-September through mid-November in North America, cranberries can be found in grocery stores and farmers markets through mid-winter. Pick firm, deep red cranberries. Sticky, discolored cranberries are probably past their peak, so you'll want to avoid those.

Much heartier than summer berries, fresh cranberries (stored unwashed) can last for up to a few months in the fridge. And if you freeze them, cranberries can last for a few years. To freeze, spread fresh cranberries out on a sheet pan and place in the freezer until frozen. Once frozen, store the cranberries in a freezer-safe bag (freezing initially on a sheet pan prevents clumping).

It’s time for pumpkin to share the seasonal spotlight with cranberries. And if you get through the end of the list and are looking for more? Consult this list of 50 other ways you can use cranberries.

Nov Cover day1

Nov Cover day1

Cake on a Cake Pedestal Surrounded by Sugary Fruit

©Food Stylist: Stephana Bottom

Food Stylist: Stephana Bottom

This lemon-flavored cake has a sweet-tart surprise of cranberry jam in the middle.

All the flavors of fall come together in this parfait; a light breakfast perfect for Thanksgiving morning or day after. Plus, we’re confident that you’ll find other uses for the cranberry-citrus jam (looking at you, leftover Thanksgiving biscuits).

cheese log with sweet and spicy cranberry relish

Photo by: yia thao

yia thao

Valerie tops this cheese log with a fresh cranberry-jalapeno relish for an easy make-ahead holiday appetizer.

Alex Guarnaschelli's Sugar Cranberry Pie for An Early Thanksgiving (Guests) as seen on Food Network's Alex's Day Off

Photo by: Alice Gao ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Alice Gao, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

This pie is stuffed with a whole lot of cranberries and a few pears for good measure. Worried about your crust-decorating game? Learn how to crimp pie crust like a pro.

Cranberry Orange Mule, as seen on The Bobby and Damaris Show, Season 1.

Photo by: Richard Freeda

Richard Freeda

The base of this seasonal cocktail is homemade cranberry vodka, which you’ll want to prepare a few days in advance. While you’re at it, start making the sugared cranberry garnish; these soak in a simple syrup overnight, which you’ll want to save for future cocktails.

Cheesecakes are known for being temperamental – they can crack if overbaked or if you open the door of the oven while they bake. Not only does the cranberry compote balance out the rich white chocolate flavor, but it can cover up any unsightly cracks.

Traditionally, the shaved ice texture of granitas is made by scraping the frozen mixture by hand. But if you’re tight on time, try pulsing the frozen base in a blender to get a similar result. And then, turn these into mocktails: add some of the cranberry granita to lemon-lime soda instead of vodka.   

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