The idea of having an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner is a part of the festive celebrations. Largely a harvest season in the US and Canada, this day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November each year. Since this special occasion is just a day away, we thought of taking you through the significance of cranberry sauce on the dinner table on this day.
There are plenty of foods that are significant to the celebration of Thanksgiving. Being celebrated on November 24 this year, everyone has geared up in the preparation of the lavish feast. Roast turkey is one such dish that is intrinsic to the celebrations. Stuffed with delicious fillings, the turkey is the star at almost all Thanksgiving dinners.
But this reminds us that there is a certain side dish that holds a lot of significance on this day too. We’re talking about the cranberry sauce. Have you ever wondered why this condiment is always a part of the festive spread? Well, one reason is that cranberry is one of the few commercially grown fruits that are native to America, apart from blueberries and concord grapes. Since Thanksgiving is all about the new harvest in the States, cranberries became an important component of the celebratory meal.
However, the existence of cranberry sauce at the dinner table in ancient times is often contested. Although there are no definite records, it is believed that one of the earliest Thanksgiving dinners in 1621 saw roast turkey and mashed potatoes served with cranberries. It is said that since cranberries were widely consumed by Americans, not just as a fruit but also as a medicine as well as a natural dye for clothes, it must have made its presence at the Thanksgiving dinner too.
Moreover, it is said that the sweet cranberry sauce, made with sugar forayed into the American meals only by the 19th century. This is because the natives brought sugarcanes with them but it took them decades to understand how to grow them on their soil. It was only after the sugar and water mixture could be prepared that the cranberry sauce came into being, since it had to be sweetened. Some records of the late 17th century mention early recipes of a cranberry sauce, which later came to be paired with game meat like turkey.
Finally, when the harvest of cranberries was reinvented and shifted from dry harvesting to a wet bog harvesting, that the process of harvesting this fruit became easier and the cranberry sauce could be made in abundance. Due to the long history and association of cranberries and their harvest with the US, it comes as no surprise that any Thanksgiving dinner today is incomplete without a side of cranberry sauce.