Cooking With Cranberries

Massachusetts cranberry growers share their favorite family recipes in the spirit of the holiday season.

Photography by Michelle McGrath PR

As Massachusetts cranberry growers wrap up their 2020 harvest season and look forward to the holidays that lie ahead, a few local grower families (represented by Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association) have shared treasured family recipes that showcase the local harvest.

Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce


6 cups of fresh cranberries

1 cup white sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar

1½ cups apple cider or juice (cranberry, orange, etc.)

3 small oranges or clementines, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup maple syrup

1 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped (optional)

Combine cranberries, sugars and juice in a heavy, large stock pot and simmer over medium-low heat until the cranberry skins begin to burst. Stir in clementines or oranges and lemon juice, continue to simmer for 10 minutes more.  Remove from heat, and stir in maple syrup, cool to room temperature. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Stir in nuts if desired and refrigerate in a tightly sealed container until ready to serve, up to 5 days.

“I know it's only sauce. But I am always surprised at how many people have never cooked it before. Home cooks should feel free to fiddle around with this flexible recipe.  I sometimes add the halved lemons that I have previously squeezed and frozen. After boiling, I remove the rinds before serving, but the infused flavor is worth the addition.”

~ Mary McCaffery, Spring Rain Farm of East Taunton

Cranberry Wassail

Cranberry Wassail

½ gallon cranberry juice

5-6 cups apple cider or juice

¼-⅔ cup sugar

4 cinnamon sticks

½ teaspoon nutmeg

20 whole cloves

1-2 medium oranges, sliced, for garnish

Whole fresh cranberries, optional, for garnish

In a large stock pot, combine cranberry juice, apple juice or cider, sugar and cinnamon sticks. Place remaining spices in cheesecloth or a spice ball and submerge in the juice mixture. Heat to boiling over medium heat, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Transfer carefully to a heat proof bowl, pitcher or punch bowl, garnish with floating sliced oranges and whole cranberries. Scoop into mugs or glasses to serve.

“I’m sharing my mother Nina (Natalie) Atwood’s recipes.  They originated initially from my grandmother, preserving them for our multi-generation grower family. My mother and I both have often typed our favorite recipes on old-school typewriters, a treasured method of documenting these holiday season star dishes.”

~ Susan Gilmore, Gilmore Cranberry Co., Carver

Cranberry Congo Bars

Cranberry Congo Bars

3 eggs

2¾ cups flour

2½  teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

⅔ cup butter or margarine, softened

2¼ cups light brown sugar

¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped fresh or sweetened dried cranberries

½ cup nuts of choice, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a bowl with a hand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by flour mixture, until thoroughly combined.  Stir in chocolate chips, cranberries or sweetened dried cranberries and nuts, if desired.  Spread into a greased 9x13" baking pan, and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean when pressed into the center of the bars.  Cool to room temperature and cut into bars or squares.  Store up to 3 days in a tightly sealed container at room temperature.


For more information about the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association,