Fresh cranberries are available in supermarkets and grocery stores from October through December — a very short season! Stock up on fresh cranberries during the fall. Freeze them right in the bags they come in and they’ll be good for up to 12 months.
Cranberries are a good source of various vitamins and antioxidants. And as nutritious and delicious as cranberries are, there are ways we can use inexpensive, fresh cranberries to make the holidays even more beautiful! Here are a few ideas.
Centerpiece. Start with some Styrofoam balls, any size. Cut a bunch of wood toothpicks in half. Stick a pick into the ball so that about 1/2 inch is sticking out. Push a cranberry onto the toothpick until it touches the foam ball. Repeat until the ball is covered, placing the cranberries close enough so the white ball does not show through. Set your cranberry balls on candle holders of various heights, or pile them into a large bowl.
Wreath (or any other shaped styrofoam). Follow the same instructions above to cover the front side of a wreath shape. Add a beautiful bow, and voila! For just a few bucks, you will have a gorgeous decoration piece.
Glittered up. In a medium bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon pasteurized egg white powder (or 1 raw egg white) until blended but not whipped. Coat dry raw cranberries with this mixture. Spread granulated sugar on a baking sheet and roll the wet cranberries in it until they are covered. Dry at room temperature for 2 hours. Use as a garnish for desserts. Sugared cranberries almost sparkle; they are so pretty.
Flower arrangements. Pour fresh raw cranberries into a clear glass vase. Add water. Now, add a simple flower arrangement. The red berries in the water are stunning. Berries will last longer than the flowers, so don’t worry about them going bad.
Alternatively, you don’t have to add the water or even the flowers. Clear glass vases filled partially with red cranberries add a beautiful decorative touch to any setting.
Floating candles. Partially fill a clear glass bowl with water. Add fresh cranberries (they’ll float) and floating candles to make a pretty, colorful and simple holiday decoration.
Garland. Wash the 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 the cranberries until the desired length is achieved to decorate the mantel, Christmas tree or banister.
Alternatively, make a pattern on your cranberry garland by adding plain white popcorn, i.e., five berries, three popcorn pieces. Repeat your pattern choice over and over until the garland reaches your desired length. This is so much fun. Kids love it, and even toddlers can get in on making the pattern and “checking” to make sure the person threading got it right.
Mary Hunt writes this column for Creators Syndicate. She is the founder of www.EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of “Debt-Proof Living.” Submit comments or tips or address questions on her website. She will answer questions of general interest via this column, but letters cannot be answered individually.