Information and recipe from The Good Land by Patricia B. Mitchell, a slender volume about Native American and Early Colonial Food.
Cranberries, called ‘fen berries’ by the early settlers from England, were quickly incorporated into the colonial American diet. ‘Fen’ meaning ‘bog’ accounted for that early name which gradually changed to ‘craneberry’ due to the slender curving stems of the fruit and then later to cranberry as they are known today. The trailing evergreen shrubs which grow in marshes and bogs and produce pretty, wine red berries were also familiar to those newcomers from Europe where it is sometimes called ‘Moss Berry.’
The Wampanoag Indians called the cranberry ‘sasemin’ and made a juice from it which they sweetened with maple syrup or honey. They also used cranberries as a curative for cuts and arrow wounds. The mashed fruit was placed on open wounds to draw out the poison and what we would call bacteria.
Cranberries were also used as a dye for blankets and rugs. The berry grows as far South as parts of Northern Carolina and West Virginia and was regarded by the Delaware tribe in New Jersey as a symbol of peace.
Cranberry Apple Crisp:
3 cups apple slices, 2 cups whole fresh or frozen cranberrries, 2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup butter or margarine, 1 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts, 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Toss together apple slices, cranberries, and honey. Make topping in a separate bowl. Mix butter, rolled oats, flour and sugar until crumbly. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Place the apple/cranberry mixture in a 11 3/4″ x 7 1/2 inch dish. Put on topping. Bake at 350 about 50 minutes or until fruit is tender. If mixture gets too dry pour a little hot water over it.