Dec 30, 2011

What's in a Name, Craneberry

That is the original name for the cranberry. It was first named by early European settlers in America who felt the expanding flower, stem, calyx, and petals resembled the neck, head, and bill of a crane. Native Americans used cranberries in a variety of foods, especially for meat, wound medicine, and dye.

Historically, cranberry fruits and leaves were used for a variety of problems, such as wounds, diarrhea, diabetes, stomach ailments, and liver problems. Most notably, cranberry products have been used in the hope of preventing or treating urinary tract infections. The berries are also used as dietary supplements in the form of extracts, capsules, and tablets. Raw cranberries have moderate levels of vitamin C, dietary fiber and the essential dietary mineral, manganese, as well as a balanced profile of other essential micronutrients.

Cranberries are a major commercial crop in certain American states and Canadian provinces. Cranberry sauce is regarded an indispensable part of traditional American and Canadian Thanksgiving menus and some European winter festivals.

In the 1820s cranberries were shipped to Europe and became popular for wild harvesting in the Nordic countries and Russia.

Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries, with over half of US production. About 95% of cranberries are processed into products such as juice drinks, sauce, and sweetened dried cranberries. The remaining 5% are sold fresh to consumers.