Culinary Sleuth

Cranberry Trivia


Popular Name

Scientific Name
Vaccinium macrocarpum Ait. V. oxycoccus L (small bush cranberry), V erythrocarpum Michx (Southern Mt. Cranberry), V. Vitis (Lowbush Cranberry)
Family: Ericaceae.

Common Names
Cranberry, Bounceberry, "Trailing Swamp Cranberry"

Cranberries are a low-growing vine native to the bogs and sandy plains of New England, and are a close relative of the blueberry. Massachusetts is second in the nation in cranberry production (Wisconsin is first), producing some 2 million barrels of fruit each year. They were not cultivated as an agricultural crop until 1816. They are packed with Vitamin C and numerous phytochemicals. 20% of all cranberries produced and sold during one year are sauced and eaten at Thanksgiving.

Eastern Europeans believed cranberries could reduce fever and cure cancers.

Cranberries are believed to prevent adherence of E. Coli bacteria to urinary tract walls.

Yearly production in U.S
About 70,000 tons

Culinary Use
Fresh, canned, frozen, juiced, jellied.

Potential Health Uses
In the 1800's, German physicians noted an increase in hippuric acid, a known anti-bacterial, in the urine of those who recently consumed cranberries. Researchers are now considering cranberry's effectiveness in the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infection.

Active Constituents
Anthocyanin dyes, catechin, triterpinoids, citric, malic, quinic, benzoic, and glucuornic acids, leptosine glycoside, some alkaloids, and ascorbic acid.

Cranberry Museums

Cranberry World Visitors Center
225 Water Street
Plymouth, MA
(508) 747-2350

Open daily May 1 through November 30, 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM EST, including weekends and holidays. Admission is free.

Cranberry World West
1301 American Pacific Dr.
Henderson, NV 89014
(800) 289-0917

It certainly wasn't present at the first Thanksgiving and the cranberry wasn't even made into a "sauce" until early American colonists started experimenting with native ingredients.


Culinary Sleuth

A Trio of Cranberry Recipes

(Also visit our main Thanksgiving Recipes page)


Copyright © 1998, Lynn Kerrigan. No portion of this article may be reproduced for publication without express, written permission of the author.


This page created 1998 and modified February 2007