Cranberries aren’t just a Thanksgiving and holiday thing. If you like cranberries, you can learn how to use them all year long—to fill your life with the joy of this bright, deep-red berry. And it doesn’t always have to be about cooking them!
First, you should know that cranberries are great candidates for freezing. Because of their firm texture, these hearty berries can be easily frozen for use throughout the year. Unlike some other fruits that are more delicate, cranberries can survive fully intact when frozen—after defrosting, you won’t be able to tell that they were once frozen.
You probably have cranberry recipes for sauce, bread, and muffins—it seems like everyone has their own take on a wide variety of ways to cook with these unique berries. Please check out some of our interesting cranberry recipes, like this one for Cranberry Brussels Sprouts. But how about some ways to use cranberries that don’t involve cooking and eating them? We’ve got you covered.
Here are six fun and unique ways to use cranberries, so you can enjoy them all year long:
1. Make your own homemade cranberry lip gloss.
Does it sound crazy to apply cranberry lip gloss to your lips? Well, it’s not crazy; it’s an easy and inexpensive way to make your lips shine and retain moisture. Plus, this mixture is a natural exfoliant to keep your lips fresh. Place 10 raw cranberries, 1 teaspoon honey, and 1 tablespoon almond oil in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high for 2 minutes. After microwaving, mix and mash the mixture while still hot. After cooling, use a fine sieve to strain the liquid out and discard the berry substance. Pour the semi-liquid mixture into an easily accessible container for whenever you want to apply to your lips for a fresh, moist feel!
2. Make a gorgeous table centerpiece.
Put your crafty self to work with this project, and you’ll easily create a stunning table centerpiece that people will ask “Where did you get that?”. And this centerpiece is not just for a holiday table—you can spruce up your table any time of the year with this beautiful bowl. The size of your bowl will determine the size and quantity of styrofoam balls you’ll need. Cut wooden toothpicks in half. One at a time, stick a toothpick into the styrofoam ball halfway deep into the styrofoam with the pointy end on the outside. Push a fresh cranberry on the toothpick until it reaches the styrofoam ball. Repeat all over the ball until the ball is covered, positioning new toothpicks close enough together so that the white styrofoam isn’t visible. Bingo! You’ll have a gorgeous centerpiece when you pile the cranberry-covered balls into an attractive bowl.
3. Make a decorative garnish.
Cranberries make a great garnish, especially for desserts of all types. These sugared cranberries will sparkle and shine on any plate. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons water and 1 raw egg white until blended, but not whipped. Coat a batch of raw cranberries with the mixture. Spread granulated sugar—be sure to use white sugar, not brown or raw sugar—on a baking sheet, and roll the wet cranberries in it until they are covered all over with sugar. Dry at room temperature for 2 hours. When fully dry, you’ll have a batch of sparkly garnish that you can spoon on the side of any dessert for a beautiful presentation!
4. Make a fancy flower arrangement.
When you combine the stark red color of cranberries with flowers, the look can be breathtaking. And it’s so easy to do! Just pour fresh raw cranberries into a clear glass vase, preferably a tall vase. Add water and a simple cut flower arrangement. Seeing the red berries in the water, containing the flowers around them, is just stunning. Don’t worry about the berries going bad before the flowers; that won’t happen. For an even simpler look, just fill a tall clear glass vase with fresh raw cranberries—no water and no flowers—and you’ll have a professional decorator look for any table in any room.
5. Make a festive garland.
Now, this project is really for holiday decorating—but you can start in November and use this garland to decorate a banister in your home before thinking about wrapping your holiday tree with it. First, wash and dry raw cranberries. Thread a large sewing needle with waxed dental floss. Secure the first cranberry on the floss by putting the needle through the cranberry twice, then make a knot in the floss. Continue threading cranberries until the desired garland length is achieved for decorating your banister, mantel, and/or Christmas tree. Make this garland once at the beginning of the Thanksgiving season, and you can use it all the way through until the new year!
6. Make a fabulous floating candle arrangement with cranberries.
This project is super simple, and it doesn’t only have to be used for holiday decorating—try using these floating candle arrangements for a Valentine’s Day party or romantic dinner. Or even for a summer or fall party. Use clear glass bowls of various sizes, and fill them three-quarters of the way with water. Add raw fresh cranberries and floating candles—the cranberries will float too—and you’ll have pretty, colorful displays that will reflect the light and color.
Do you want to start growing your own cranberries? It’s easier than you might think, and the result will certainly make you an accomplished food gardener! Check out our Cranberries Gardening Guide to learn all about growing, tending, and harvesting your own cranberries!
What else would you like to know about cranberries? Do you have any special ways that you use these unique berries? Please leave your questions and comments below.