are a group of three to four species of berry-bearing plants in genus Vaccinium, in the family Ericaceae. They are evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines found growing in acidic bogs throughout the cooler parts of Northern Hemisphere.
Cranberries can grow to 2 m long and 5-20 cm in height, with slender, wiry stems that are not thickly woody, and have small evergreen leaves. The dark pink flowers have very distinct reflexed petals, with the style and stamens fully exposed and pointing forward. The flowers are pollinated by domestic honey bees. The fruit is an epigynous berry that is larger than the leaves of the plant, initially white but turns into a deep red when fully ripe. Cranberries has an acidic taste that can overwhelm its sweetness.
Most cranberries are processed into products such as juice, sauce, and sweetened dried cranberries, with some sold as fresh. Cranberries are harvested in the autumn when the fruits take on a distinctive deep red color. They are considered too sharp to be eaten plain and raw. Fresh cranberries can be frozen at home, and will keep up to nine months. Frozen cranberries can be used directly in recipes without thawing.
Cranberries are recognised as a popular consumer product with their nutrient content and antioxidant qualities. They have moderate levels of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, dietary fiber and the essential dietary mineral, manganese , as well as a balanced profile of other micronutrients. Cranberries are a source of polyphenol antioxidants, phytochemicals that are beneficial to the cardiovascular system and immune system, and also as anti-cancer agents.
Simon A. Eugster