Cranberries are the red-coloured fruit of the cranberry shrub, a low, creeping evergreen bush or vine native to a number of countries in North and South America, Central and Northern Europe. They are a major commercial crop in some states of the USA and in Canada where they are generally processed into juice, sauces, jams, or sold either as fresh or dried fruits.
Freeze dried cranberries are dehydrated down to 10 per cent of their original water content without preservatives or sugar and have a strong, natural flavour. They can be eaten as they are or added to drinks such as smoothies, or reconstituted with water. Freeze drying is the healthiest and most ideal way of preserving them without using preservatives.
Freeze dried cranberries can also be sold in powdered form which enables their goodness and flavour to be introduced into food in a more subtle way, perhaps as a supplement. As a powder they can more easily be used in smoothies, milkshakes, lollies, jelly, yoghurt, custard, meringues, sauces, and desserts. They can also be dusted over the tops of puddings or sprinkled over cereals.
It is worth noting that expensive cranberry powder sold as a supplement is nothing more than powdered freeze dried cranberries – nothing more than pure cranberry as sold for culinary purposes. Cranberries used as a supplement are good for urinary tract infections such as cystitis. Two tablespoons per day is a typical dose.
As a flavouring they can produce an extra tartness.