Cranberries: Pucker Power

The cranberry, often as canned cranberry sauce, is a popular holiday staple.  A hard, round, red fruit that comes with a bitter and sour taste that’s barely palatable.  Adding sugar or another sweetener is the only solution to bring cranberry products to the grocery aisles or to home cooking.


Cranberries are really a superfood.  They are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants, which give them the dark red color and tart sensation. This pretty, red berry is a good source of vitamin C and fiber and of nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria.


Cranberries can be a year-around food.  Fresh cranberries can be stored in a tightly-sealed plastic bag for a couple months in the refrigerator or for 8-12 months in the freezer.  Frozen cranberries can be found in the supermarket along with other frozen fruits.


Some may perceive cranberry products as “unhealthy” due to their added sugar.  However, the 4% natural sugar content of cranberries is much lower than that of other fruits.  One can manage the added sugar with common sense portions and by balancing with sweets throughout the day.


Fun facts:  Cranberries grow in wetlands in long-running vines.  Due to an air pocket, a cranberry can float in water.  For cranberry food products, mature fruit falls off the vine and floats in flooded bogs for wet harvesting.  Fresh cranberries are actually dry harvested to yield the freshest for bagged whole berries. Check out for more trivia about this not-so-seasonal superfood!


Simple, Low-Sugar Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Fruity & Tart

3 cups (12 oz) fresh or frozen whole cranberries

¼ c. sugar

1 tbsp. agave nectar

1/8 tsp. salt

¼ c. fresh orange juice

2 tsp. orange zest


  1. Combine cranberries, sugar, agave, salt and orange juice in medium saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until cranberries burst and liquid starts to reduce, about 15 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid has a thick, syrupy consistency, about 12 minutes more.
  4. Remove from heat and cool completely, about 2 hours.
  5. Sprinkle with orange zest.

  Source: Ivy Odom, Cooking Light, November 2018

About Mary Lynne Hixson, MA, RD:

Mary Lynne, a registered dietitian, helps others enhance their health through the advocacy of nutrient-rich food choices and safe food-handling practices. Her expertise also includes counseling patients who have Type 2 diabetes and advising those who are in medically-managed weight loss programs. After her 35+ year career, she retired and became involved with the launch of Harvest of Hope Pantry in 2012 as a Board of Directors member. Mary Lynne is a weekly volunteer with Cultivate’s Carry-Out Caravan program, shopping and delivering groceries to seniors in the Boulder area, and also a frequent volunteer with Harvest of Hope.