Philadelphia, PA - Why Do We Eat Cranberry Sauce at Thanksgiving Time? While this classic side dish may not be unique to the United States, it is a staple of the Thanksgiving table across the nation. The humble cranberry grows on a low-growing perennial vine, making it a deliciously sweet and slightly sour treat. In addition to their delicious taste, cranberries are also native to the United States.
Cranberry Sauce and Thanksgiving
Cranberry sauce wasn't first used as a condiment at Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims didn't start using the wild berries and boiled them with sugar and water to make a tangy condiment, until years after. The cranberry's gelatinous texture meant that it didn't bleed into other elements of the meal, making it an ideal sauce for the turkey.
In addition to being a classic Thanksgiving side dish, cranberry sauce has deep roots in American history. The first Thanksgiving was held in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and cranberries were served as a garnish. While it is easy to dislike canned jellied cranberry sauce, Marisa McClellan makes her own from scratch. She even uses the leftovers like jam and molds them in tin cans.
Cranberries are rich and buttery, so despite being often served as a side dish at Thanksgiving, they are still one of the most essential ingredients in the Thanksgiving meal. In addition to being a traditional part of the meal, cranberries have become one of the most popular and enduring holiday foods. While you're enjoying your turkey and stuffing your plate with turkey and mashed potatoes, consider adding a little cranberry sauce.
Cranberry Production in The US
The cranberry bog is a wet harvest method that is much faster than the dry method. Ocean Spray began selling canned cranberry sauce in the early 1900s. Today, cranberry bogs are filled with water, causing the berries to float to the surface. A good cranberry bog has a high concentration of cranberries, which is why it is best to buy fresh cranberries at Thanksgiving.
Before the cranberry bogs were flooded in the mid-19th century, American Indians used cranberries to dye fabric and use them as medicine. In the early 1900s, the cranberry bogs were flood bogs, and farmers waded into the water to collect the floating berries. Using the wet harvest method, the cranberries remained in the bogs for longer and were less likely to be damaged.
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