A round, dark red, tart berry that is a close relative to the blueberry. There are several varieties, but the species most used are native to the northern U.S. and are grown in bogs or sandy coastal regions on a low growing vine. The Cranberry is very hard and too tart to be eaten plain, so it is usually cooked and processed before it is eaten or it is dried (dehydrated) and packaged as dried fruit that can be eaten out of hand without further processing. The fresh and dried Cranberries, which have a high vitamin C content, are used in a wide variety of baked goods, salads, sauces, snacks, juices, and juice blends. Dried Cranberries are increasingly being produced in many flavors (blueberry, cherry, orange, peach, raspberry, and strawberry) and used widely as a tasty ingredient for muffins, snack foods, trail mix, cereal, and other baked goods.
Raw whole Cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator for approximately a month or two and frozen for approximately a year. The dried Cranberries can be stored without refrigeration for over a year in conditions that do not cause deterioration. As the fresh Cranberry matures, it continues to increase in tartness. Therefore, recipes that require a milder flavor that is less tart are typically made with Cranberries that have not matured.