Zeke Freeman
Written by Zeke Freeman

Thanksgiving Cranberries: Simple Ingredients, Complex Tastes

Cranberry Sauce


Simple Ingredients, Complex Tastes. When I sat down to plan out our Thanksgiving menu this year, it occurred to me: less truly is more. (The one cliché I still enjoy repeating). And this year's Bee Raw Cranberry Honey-Brined Turkey will prove it, thanks to one simple ingredient: cranberries.

Cranberries are a rich group of evergreen dwarf shrubs, or trailing vines, that can be found in acidic bogs throughout the cooler regions of the northern hemisphere. They are low, creeping shrubs or vines up to 7 feet long and 2 to 8 inches in height; they have slender, wiry stems that are not thickly woody and have small evergreen leaves. The flowers are dark pink, with very distinct reflexed petals, leaving the style and stamens fully exposed and pointing forward. And yep—they are pollinated by bees. The fruit is a berry that is larger than the leaves of the plant; it is initially white, but turns a deep red when fully ripe. Delicious when eaten, cranberries have an acidic taste that can overwhelm its sweetness which make them perfect with savory foods like turkey and the other traditionally rich flavors of the holiday table.

Most cranberries are processed into products such as juice, sauce, jam and sweetened dried cranberries, with the remainder sold fresh to consumers. We use the fresh ones both for our Cranberry Honey and for the cranberry sauce I make to accompany our Turkey. Cranberry sauce is regarded an indispensable part of traditional American and Canadian Thanksgiving menus and some European winter festivals. Since the early 21st century within the global functional food industry, raw cranberries have been marketed as a "superfruit" due to their nutrient content and antioxidant qualities.

It is the brightness of this superfruit's flavor that has often attracted me to it—and the sublime way in which it compliments both the sweetness of honey and the savoriness of a slow roasted Thanksgiving turkey. One phenomenal ingredient can, like a photograph, speak a thousand words. But one word in particular will resonate on your palate with these pairings this Thanksgiving season: Flavor! Yes, less truly is more.

—Zeke Freeman

Cranberry Honey-Brined TurkeyOrange and Honey Cranberry Sauce.

Topics: Entertaining, Tips and Tricks, Home Chef, Holidays