By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Cranberries are flavorful, famously good for you and they’re native to our area, making them a natural for Thanksgiving. Cranberries contain antioxidants, properties to inhibit infection, and a natural preservative; that’s why Native Americans used them to make Pemmican – or jerky – because cranberries helped preserve the meat too.

We’re lucky to have so many cranberries growing nearby in New Jersey, and if you’ve never seen a harvest, plan to head out to the Pine Barrens next fall as I did this year to see the bogs glistening with billions of ruby jewels.

Farmers flood the fields, then collect the bobbing berries for juice and that distinctive canned cranberry sauce. Other berries are harvested dry – those are the ones you buy in a bag to bake into breads, create fruit compote, or perk up an apple or cherry pie.

One of my favorite ways to give thanks for cranberries is by creating a cocktail – cranberry juice, lemonade, seltzer and vodka (or not) – to enjoy a festive fizz for the holidays while drinking a toast to good health.

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