Cranberries for Thanksgiving

Cranberries for Thanksgiving

By Mary Emma Allen

Thanksgiving, whether in the country or city, has a special meaning. It's a time of family get-togethers, turkey-cranberry-pumpkin pie feasts, and the giving of thanks for our many blessings.

We remember then the hearty settlers of Plymouth Rock fame, who endured numerous hardships to settle a new land. But in the midst of their trials, they stopped to give thanks and feast with friends after the first year's harvest.

Although their material goods weren't plentiful, they were thankful to be alive and have a goodly harvest. They set an American tradition which has been followed throughout the years.

Family Traditions

I remember Thanksgiving at Grandma's farm, where we went to celebrate each year. We rode the 40 miles in an unheated car, putting our feet on heated soap stones wrapped in blankets and on the warm roasting pan of turkey or chicken Mother had cooked for the festive dinner. Although we were traveling by auto, we children always sang, "Over the River and Through the Woods." Our voices rang merrily through all the verses and then on to other songs as we passed the time until we reached the long laneway to Grandma's Trails End Farm.

Cranberries a Native Food

Thanksgiving without cranberries is almost unthinkable. The early Massachusetts settlers found them growing among the Cape Cod bogs. We Americans have continued to include them when we serve turkey for a holiday meal.

These ruby berries had been used for many years by the Indians. "Ibimi" berries, the natives called them.

The settlers referred to them as "craneberries." Some say it was because the bud and stem resembled the neck and head of a crane. Others maintain it was because the cranes living on Cape Cod ate these berries. Still others called them "bounce" berries because some people bounced the berries against a hard surface to test their ripeness.

For a tasty CRANBERRY MOLD, cook 1 pound fresh cranberries in 2 cups water for 5-10 minutes, until the berries have popped their skins (the sign that they're done).

Strain through a fine sieve. Press the pulp through with the juice. Then stir in 2 cups sugar and boil for 3 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a 1 quart mold. Keep in the refrigerator several hours, until it has set. Unmold at serving time.

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen is a columnist, children's writer, and book author. Visit her web site:; or email her at

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