Cranberries are round, elongated fruits that measure in size from 1.5 to 3 centimeters. They grow on low, bushy, trailing vines with oval leaves, and take about 16 months to mature. Their skins ripen from green to white, then to a glossy, scarlet red. The firm flesh is a bright, creamy white and has a crisp texture. There are four small air pockets in the center of each berry, giving it buoyancy and bounce. This earned them the name ?Bounceberry? for a time. Cranberries have a bitter, starchy and tart flavor. The best fresh Cranberries are not only firm to the touch but have a bouncy quality, that indicates ripeness.
Cranberries can be used whole, fresh, or cooked. Wash the berries and discard any soft, shriveled or sticky They can be dried or frozen whole, and are commercially canned or made into fruit juices and sauces. Whole Cranberries are most often cooked, along with sugar and sometimes citrus or other winter fruits, and made into a sauce or chutney. The acidity of the berries compliments both savory and sweet dishes. Cranberry sauce can be added to desserts and baked goods. Whole berries can be halved and added to beverages like sangria, or chopped and added to salad greens or soft cheeses. Dried Cranberries can be added to salads, stuffing, breads, cookies and cakes. Store Cranberries in the refrigerator for up to a week.