Bringing the Bog Home

The harvest team at Decas Cranberry Products hard at work during a wet harvest, courtesy image

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

McGRATHPR.com – Massachusetts cranberry growers are wrapping up their 2020 harvest season, a long-awaited moment each year for the industry.  In the spirit of their celebration and in anticipation of the holidays that lie ahead, several local grower families, represented in their agricultural industry by Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, share anecdotes of their most treasured recipes directly from their table to yours.

“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

Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce, image by Michelle McGrath PR

Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

6 cups 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, 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’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 Wassail, image by Michelle McGrath PR

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.

Cranberry Congo Bars, image by Michelle McGrath PR

Cranberry Congo Bars 

2¾ cups flour

2½  teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

⅔ cup butter or margarine, softened

2¼ cups light brown sugar

3 eggs

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 9×13″ 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.

Cranberry Pumpkin Risotto, image by Michelle McGrath PR

Cranberry Pumpkin Risotto

~ by Abigail Addison (daughter of Susan Gilmore)

5-7 cups chicken stock, divided
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about ⅔ cup)
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups Arborio rice
1teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium-low heat and sauté onions until translucent.  In a separate pot, heat chicken stock to a boil, turn off heat. 

Add the rice to the onion mixture and continue to cook until slightly toasted and lightly browned. Add white wine and simmer until absorbed.  Add 5 cups of chicken stock, stirring until combined, cover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and stir in pumpkin puree, spices, salt and pepper, incorporating additional reserved chicken stock to loosen if needed.  Cover and cook for 10 more minutes, until al dente doneness, slightly soft with a slight bite. Taste to adjust seasoning. Stir in Parmesan and sweetened dried cranberries, and additional reserved chicken stock to thin if needed. Serve hot.


“I discovered this flexible recipe some time ago amongst the recipes on the Ocean Spray Cranberries website. It’s fun to experiment with the many topping possibilities, which I’ve enjoyed exploring together with the members of my book club.” ~ Julie Mason: Lim-Kran Inc., Carver

Cranberry Pizza

Day After Thanksgiving Pizza, image by Michelle McGrath PR

1 12-14” prepared pizza crust (Boboli, store bought or homemade, par-cooked)

1 14-ounce can whole cranberry sauce

Cooked meats or vegetables of choice, sliced

1 8-ounce package shredded or crumbled cheese (mozzarella, feta, Italian blend, etc.)

salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450° F. Place crust on a pizza pan or baking sheet.  Spread cranberry sauce evenly across crust, top with shredded cheese, then desired toppings, salt and pepper to taste. Bake until the crust is crispy and cheese is melting, about 10-15 minutes.  Cool slightly, slice into wedges to serve.

(Serving suggestion pictured: Day After Thanksgiving Pizza – whole berry cranberry sauce, sautéed Swiss chard, roasted butternut squash, shredded roast turkey and feta cheese, garnished with thyme, garlic and scallions.)

Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association represents more than 300 cranberry growers in Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and Nantucket. Cranberries are the largest agricultural food commodity produced in Massachusetts.  Massachusetts is home to 30% of all North American cranberry acreage and according to the Farm Credit East Knowledge Exchange Report, provides over 6,900 jobs and a total economic benefit of over $1.4 billion to the Massachusetts economy.

For more information about Massachusetts cranberries and their health benefits, visit Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association online at cranberries.org or follow the Association on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

About Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association

Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association represents more than 300 cranberry growers in Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and Nantucket. Cranberries are the largest agricultural food commodity produced in Massachusetts, with an annual crop value of $60.2 million.  Massachusetts is home to 30% of all North American cranberry acreage and according to the Farm Credit East Knowledge Exchange Report, provides over 6,900 jobs and a total economic benefit of over $1.4 billion to the Massachusetts economy. For further information, contact Brian Wick, Executive Director, Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, bwick@cranberries.org or at 508-866-7878.  For the latest updates, visit cranberries.org or follow the Association on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.