Days 3 & 4: Cranberry sauce and green bean casserole

So life got in the way of my best intentions Wednesday as a hectic schedule and early Thursday morning left absolutely no time for me to bring you the day 3 Thanksgiving dinner item, cranberry sauce. So, I’m giving you a double-dose of Thanksgiving favorites but be ware, this blog is likely to make you hungry.

Day 3, Cranberry Sauce: Cranberries are primarily a product of the northern U.S. and Canada. The fruit is as old as the Thanksgiving celebration and has changed little in its role in the traditional meal.

According to the Cranberry Institute, the majority of cranberries are harvested between September and October and occurs in one of two ways. By far the most common method is wet or water harvest. The beds are flooded and the fruit is “beaten” off the vine using a specialized harvester. The floating fruit is then corralled and loaded onto trucks for delivery to a receiving station. Wet harvested fruit is used for processed cranberry products like juice and sauce. Dry harvested fruit is “combed” from the vines using a mechanized picking machine. No water is involved during this process. The fruit is loaded into bins and shipped to receiving stations where it is cleaned and packaged as fresh fruit.

In the past few years, cranberries have earned a reputation as a power fruit, with scientists discovering the many nutrients, antioxidants and other natural compounds occurring naturally in the small, red fruit. Cranberry sauce is made from fresh or frozen cranberries, water and sugar. It’s one of the most simple and colorful dishes found on the thanksgiving day dinner table.

Day 4, Green Bean Casserole: Today brings the group favorite green bean casserole to the table. Data on green bean production is harder to come by but the U.S. Agricultural Statistical Service reports that in 1999, the U.S. produced $135 million in processed green beans and an additional $256 million in fresh, snapped beans.

It’s unclear which states leads the country in green bean production but Florida, Wisconsin, California and Georgia are all considered top bean producers. The beans are planted in early spring and harvested in June.

Green bean harvest has only recently included the use of machinery. For decades, manual labor was the only means for getting the beans out of the field. The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service reports that mechanical harvesters have become highly developed, with one-row or multirow capacity. These machines generally have opposing brushes that strip the pods from the vines, leaving only the plant stems. The harvested material is transported through various separators to remove dirt, leaves, and other foreign materials. The pods are then placed in bags, pallet bins, or dump hoppers for transport to the packing shed.

I also found a fun fact during my research: Beans and peas also readily adsorb the odor of peppers, onions, and cantaloupes. Now I know!

 

Green beans, like all vegetables, offers plenty of vitamins and nutrients without the unneeded fat and calories. Green bean casserole, however, can quickly pack on the pounds if full-fat cream of mushroom is used. The french onions  also drag down the nutritional value of the veggies. One serving of the casserole offers 142 calories and 8 grams of fat.

Friday’s Thanksgiving meal dish: rolls.


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