Thanksgiving sides: A brief history of cranberries

By Amanda Lillie

Although cranberries are touted as having been part of the original Thanksgiving feast, most historians say it is unlikely cranberries were served as their own dish until years later, reports the website, Cranberries.org

It is true, though, that the Pilgrims learned to use cranberries from the Native Americans, who used the fruit for food, dye, and medicine.

The antioxidant properties of cranberries became so popular that by the 1800s sailors would carry cranberries on their ships to avoid scurvy.

Some cranberry vines existing today in Massachusetts are more than 150 years old. Growers do not usually need to replant the vines because an undamaged vine will survive indefinitely.

Today, cranberries have become a common flavor, juice, and ingredient. Many American families simply buy canned cranberry sauce for their Thanksgiving dinners, but there are thousands of flavorful, homemade chutney and relish recipes that will make the cranberry portion of your meal much more enticing.

The following recipe is from Taste of Home magazine, and incorporates other autumn flavors that will meld deliciously with the rest of your meal.

Serves 16, yields four cups

1-1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries

2 large tart apples, peeled and finely chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts (optional)

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and water to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Carefully stir in the cranberries, apples, onion, raisins, brown sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, salt, allspice and cloves.

2. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until desired thickness, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, stir in walnuts. Serve warm or cold.

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