Whether you are buying them for that Thanksgiving cranberry sauce or a cranberry Christmas cake, find out how early you can purchase the fresh cranberries. Learn about when the harvest season begins.
Cranberries are a major part of the holiday celebration. Whether you have cranberry sauce, relish, or a cake, it would not be Thanksgiving or Christmas without them.
But are you worried you might not be able to find them and then you will have to live without them? Did you go the day before Thanksgiving last year only to find the store sold out? Or are you stocking up some Halloween candy in October and notice that cranberries are in stock and plentiful? Really how far in advance can you buy cranberries?
Let us answer that question for you as well as teach you how to store them.
📅 How Long Do They Last?
Fresh cranberries can last for months. Yes, that's right months. Unlike the more perishable raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries, cranberries have a very long shelf life. For highest quality I would say 3-4 weeks but they can easily last longer.
Cranberries have a firm skin, the berries aren't fragile like raspberries that can easily become moldy.
I have literally had cranberries in the back of the fridge for months (that I forgot about) and they were still good enough to eat. Not moldy at all. Eventually they will start to get wrinkly, but since most of us probably aren't eating them right out of the bag and are cooking o baking with them it won't matter as only the texture is really affected.
I have made cranberry sauce from cranberries I got in November in January. Kids love it, so they don't think it's weird to make it post holidays!
🛒 When to Buy
- Optimal buying time for Thanksgiving - One week before Thanksgiving only because they are more likely to be on sale.
- Optimal buying time for Christmas - any time. earlier the better so they don't sell out.
Fresh cranberries will be in your local grocery store in the United States starting in October. I can occasionally see them in late September. But October is when they become more wide spread. In reality, you can buy the fresh cranberries as soon as you see them.
Although the prices will be higher in the beginning. They won't be on sale normally until the week before or the week of Thanksgiving. Or even the week after if it's a good season.
Supplies in stores last through Christmas generally. By January they become hard to find.
Don't want to buy your ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner at the last minute? Then you need to check out our Low Stress Thanksgiving Shopping Guide for all the answers. This guide will help you get ahead of the game and avoid the long check out lines. Know how early you can buy each ingredient with customizable printable shopping lists.
🚜 Where Do They Come From?
Fresh cranberries are grown in several states. The number 1 producing state is Wisconsin. They have huge lead over these other states:
- New Jersey
If you ive in one of these states you might be able to buy them directly from the farmer at a farm or farmers market. Or you could even get a tour of the harvest process. I have been to a cranberry bog in Michigan at DeGrandchamp's in South Haven. It's just like the Ocean Spray commercials.
You may also find cranberries from British Columbia.
❔ Did you know cranberries are most often sold in 12-ounce bags. They are not a full pound.
🧊 How to Store
Fresh raw cranberries should be stored in the fridge. The crispier drawer is a good spot for them. They can stay in the packaging they came in. Leaving them in the fridge uncovered will lead them to wrinkle and/or dry out much faster.
They will last so much longer in the fridge than left out at a room temperature. Grocery stores will sometimes have them out at room temperature since they aren't too perishable. You don't need to rush home from the grocery store with them ever, just put them in the fridge when you get home.
🥶 Should You Freeze Them?
I don't bother freezing them because again they have lasted a long time in the fridge without needing to take up freezer space. If you freeze them you easily could have them all year until the next season starts.
If you are someone that only uses them for holiday recipes, save your freezer space. Otherwise you could toss them in the fridge right in the bag they came in. I have actually seen businesses sell frozen cranberries that were just the fresh ones they themselves put in their freezers.
🍽️ RECIPE - How to Make Jellied Cranberry Sauce
🌬️ Buying Frozen
You can purchase frozen cranberries year round. Most stores will carry them. Stores like Walmart and Whole Foods sell them under their private labels. I have seen them also sold under the brands Dole, Cape Cod Select, Sno Pac, and Stahlbush Farms.
There is no need to thaw them before using in recipes.
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🦃 Other Ingredients to Buy in Advance
Here are some other Thanksgiving ingredients that you can buy in advance and when to buy them
🍽️ RECIPE - Make cranberry sauce using ginger ale.