The Monthly Contributors Team here on Memories by the Mile. I have followed Wanda Ann and her wonderful blog for quite some time and I absolutely love it! Thank-you Wanda Ann for giving me this awesome opportunity to spend some time here on Memories by the Mile~
Today I am going to talk about Cranberries! With Thanksgiving and the Holidays fast approaching, I thought I would share a few facts about this little red, bouncy berry. Wisconsin has long been known as the Dairy State, but in Wisconsin we have a well kept secret… Wisconsin produces more Cranberries than any other State and Warrens, WI is the Cranberry Capitol of Wisconsin. There are over 160,000 acres of cranberry marshes in the area. Fall to the folks in and around Warrens, WI is a sure sign that it’s time to get out those recipe boxes packed full of cranberry recipes and get ready for the Warrens Cranberry Festival. During the last full week-end in September the folks of Warrens, WI (population 300) are seeing Red, Crimson and…Scarlet, colors of these well loved berries. They roll out the Cranberry Red Carpet to Welcome over 100,000 visitors to the Cranberry Festival. To find out more go to Warrens Cranberry Festival.
Wisconsin is the top cranberry producing State in the nation. Over 240 growers in 20 Wisconsin Counties annually produce more than 1/2 of the cranberries Americans consume. While visiting Warrens and the surrounding area, you can stop by the Ocean Spray receiving stations to watch growers unload truckloads of berries for cleaning. There are only 3 native North American fruits; Blueberries, Concord Grapes and Cranberries. The cranberry grows on a low-growing vine in peat marshes with sandy beds. Cranberries don’t grow in water. During harvest the beds are flooded with water, then a machine resembling a giant egg beater stirs up the water to loosen the berries from the vines. When the berries float to the surface they are corralled and hauled away for processing. Dry-harvesting cranberries, the whole berries you buy at the grocery store for cooking, are flooded with a few inches of water to cushion the berries, then they are “combed” off the vines with a rack. There are many health benefits associated with Cranberries. Well known for treating Urinary Tract Infections, cranberries contain vitamin c and fiber, and are only 45 calories per cup. In disease-fighting antioxidants , they outrank nearly every fruit and vegetable, including strawberries, spinach, broccoli, red grapes and cherries. One cup of whole cranberries are full of antioxidants. Only blueberries can top the cranberry in antioxidants.
Now that we have had our lesson in Cranberries, Let’s get to the Recipe:) This dish is a wonderful change from the usual Sweet Potato Marshmallow Bake that appears on most Thanksgiving Day Tables. This dish is sweet yet tart, the pecans add a nice crunch and the Sweet Potatoes really shine through:) Enjoy~
Cranberry and Sweet Potato Bake
6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries*
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup chopped pecans
3 T melted butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t salt
2 t orange zest
1/3 cup cranberry juice
Combine the sweet potatoes, cranberries, golden raisins, chopped pecans and melted butter. Toss to coat. Combine the packed brown sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Add sugar mixture and orange zest to sweet potato mixture; toss gently to coat. Spoon sweet potato mixture into a 2 quart casserole. Pour juice over mixture. Cover, bake at 350 for 1 hour. Uncover, Bake 15 minutes longer.
*Fresh cranberries are usually available in stores from late September through early December. To freeze; place the bag of cranberries in a gallon size freezer baggie. Freeze for up to one year. For best results use the cranberries frozen, not thawed. If your recipe calls for chopped cranberries, it’s a good idea to chop them first, before you freeze them.