That gooey conglomeration of a congealed sauce, jellied or with whole berries, is used in Christmas celebrations in Britain and Canada, as a common sauce in Quebec, and in foie gras in southern France. Americans have indoctrinated the must-have goo on the seasonal menu board, as if the turkey really cares! Nonetheless, cranberries and their history are served up in a variety of recipes, both savory and sweet, and as a basis or splash in spirits throughout the holiday season. So, let’s get bogged down in a few facts…
The American cranberry, or vaccinium macrocarpon, were a staple for Native Americans who harvested wild cranberries and used them in a variety of remedies, foods and drinks.
In North America, the Narragansett people of the Algonquian nation in the regions of New England used cranberries for food and for dye. They made an energy bar-like food from crushed cranberries, dried venison and fat called “pemmican,” which served as a vital source of nutrition for fur traders during the winter months.
Commercial cranberry cultivation started in the United States in 1816. Captain Henry Hall, a Revolutionary war veteran, came across a cranberry vine thriving in some sand on Cape Cod and became the first person to successfully cultivate cranberries.
In 1912, a lawyer named Marcus L. Urann revolutionized the industry when he purchased a cranberry bog and began canning cranberries. He eventually formed a cranberry cooperative that renamed itself Ocean Spray. By 1940, the jiggly log became a staple on the Thanksgiving table of millions of Americans.
The name cranberry is derived from the German “kraanbere,” first named as cranberry in English by the missionary John Eliot in 1647. Around 1694, German and Dutch colonists in New England used the word “cranberry” to describe the expanding flower, stem, calyx, and petals of the evergreen dwarf shrub or trailing vine, resembling the neck, head, and bill of a crane.
Reference material taken in part from the following source(s): The Smithsonian Magazine, kitchenproject.com, and Wikipedia