Cranberries are a group of evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines in the genus Vaccinium subgenus Oxycoccos, or in some treatments, in the distinct genus Oxycoccos. They can be found in acidic bogs throughout the cooler regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
About 95% of cranberries are processed into products such as juice drinks, sauce, and sweetened dried cranberries. The remaining 5% are sold fresh to consumers.
Cranberries are normally considered too sharp to be eaten plain and raw, as they are not only sour but bitter as well.
Cranberry juice is a major use of cranberries; it is usually either sweetened to make "cranberry juice cocktail" or blended with other fruit juices to reduce its natural severe tartness. Many cocktails, including the Cosmopolitan, are made with cranberry juice.
Usually cranberries as fruit are cooked into a compote or jelly, known as cranberry sauce. Such preparations are traditionally served with roast turkey, as a staple of English Christmas dinners, and the Canadian and US holiday Thanksgiving. The berry is also used in baking (muffins, scones and cakes). Less commonly, innovative cooks use cranberries to add tartness to savory dishes such as soups and stews.
Fresh cranberries can be frozen at home, and will keep up to nine months; they can be used directly in recipes without thawing.
Cranberry wine is made in some of the cranberry-growing regions of the United States from either whole cranberries, cranberry juice or cranberry juice concentrate.