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After Thanksgiving

The local shops started, increasingly, to advertise their turkeys and fresh cranberries in early December, the week after American Thanksgiving. For the first time, it struck me as an afterthought, like a shop remembering to put Halloween candy out the first week of November, or bubbly displays appearing in early January.

I know better, really, and for years have been appreciating that I can have three Thanksgivings in some years: Canadian, American, and English Christmas, nicely spaced out at 4-6 week intervals so I have time to recover. Further, at least I *can* buy fresh cranberries for American Thanksgiving these days, as opposed to my first year or two back in the UK, when they weren't available.

But there's a reason that the Thanksgivings are when they are, and they contain the food they do. They're harvest festivals, and most of what's traditionally eaten is seasonal. That includes the cranberries, which are harvested in September through November.

I only just looked up when cranberry harvest season was. That's because I just cooked cranberry sauce to go with an English Christmas meal, and the cranberries were really not as good as they usually are - not as juicy, not as flavorful. For the first time, I needed to add water while making cranberry sauce; the berries were not self-sufficient that way. It made me wonder if they were past their season, older cranberries.

So that's the downside of celebrating in December with cranberries in the UK: by the time they're "in season" in the shops, they're out of their growing season already.


That said, I have every expectation that the meal(s), on the whole, will be as spectacularly good as usual.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 24th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
The season only matters if you're using them fresh. When I get round to making redcurrant relish or jelly I make it when the currents are ripe and use it all through the winter - that's the idea, it gives you vitamin C at a time when fresh fruit and vegetables are scarce.
Dec. 24th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, absolutely. And I'm certainly preserved cranberries have been used for far longer than fresh. But increasingly, in the last several years, more and more supermarkets around my area have stocked fresh cranberries in December, which means there's clearly the perception that, at least for some people, it's "better" to have them fresh.

Except, of course, it would be better still to have them fresh + in actual season.
Dec. 24th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
This - and cranberries were harvested as a wild bog fruit here at one time.

We just had blackberry trifles made with bramble jelly from September, and I expect my cranberry jelly to last well into February.
Dec. 24th, 2011 08:34 pm (UTC)
I should have been more clear: my comments were about the growing prevalence of *fresh* cranberry availability, which is presumably only spreading, and spreading in December specifically, because of some consideration that "fresh" cranberries must be better than preserved - preserved having already been long since widely available.
Dec. 24th, 2011 09:20 pm (UTC)
OK. this is Manchester, but I think I've only ever seen fresh cranberries on sale once, and that was in season. I was doing a venison casserole that week, so I pounced on them.
Dec. 24th, 2011 09:48 pm (UTC)
Whereas I've seen them in large quantities in the last few weeks in Morrison's, Sainsbury's, and Waitrose (near Epping Forest in greater London) and in Booths up in Lancashire.
Dec. 25th, 2011 03:07 pm (UTC)
I wonder if it would be worth buying the berries earlier, cooking them up, and freezing the sauce?
Dec. 26th, 2011 04:27 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. If I'd known, I would have have brought the spare cranberry sauce I'd frozen after Thanksgiving up. But it's the first time I've cooked with fresh post-US Thanksgiving, so I hadn't realized there might be a problem. Now I know!
Dec. 26th, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
I saw cranberries in a shop in York. They're bigger than I'd imagined.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )