They are an excellent source of Vitamin C and were important to the Pawtuxet Indians in the Northeast who ate them raw, boiled with maple syrup, and mixed into pemmican (a mixture of venison and animal fat).
Dutch and German settlers called the berries crane berry because when the vines bloom they look like the head and bill of a crane. Colonial Americans called them bounce berries because fresh berries bounce. The first printed American cookbook, Amelia Simmon's American Cookery (1796) included a recipe for cranberry sauce. The most basic cranberry sauce is simple to prepare, just rinse them, sort through and discard bruised or soft ones. Put a cup of water in a pot with a cup of sugar over medium heat; when sugar dissolves, add a 12-ounce pack of cranberries. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until cranberries begin to pop. Remove from heat, cool, and serve.
They freeze well and don't need to be thawed prior to cooking. Cranberries react with aluminum and will pick up the metal taste so be sure to use pots with nonreactive surfaces e.g. stainless or enamel ware.
The high amount of Vtamin C in cranberries makes homemade carnberry sauce easy to keep, it can be refrigerated for at least one week before serving.
The world's supply of cranberries is grown on only about forty-two thousand acres, about the size of Manhatten. In case you were wondering how many cranberries are in a twelve-ounce bag, the number is 360, give or take a few.