The cranberry looks like it should be delicious - it's bright, colourful, shiny and enticing. But it needs a little work and a lot of sugar. On its own, the cranberry is almost unbearably tart. The United States provides most of the world's cranberry crop. The fruit is harvested in late autumn to early winter - the brief period in which the berry is available fresh. The rest of the year, cranberries are sold frozen but because the fruit is almost always cooked, the slight change in texture from the freezing process isn't noticeable, and it doesn't affect the outcome of any dish. Commercially, cranberries are pressed to make a tart, refreshing juice (often mixed with other fruit such as apple or raspberries), dried to make a raisin-like fruit, or cooked into a thick sauce with a jelly-like texture (due to their high pectin content). Homemade cranberry sauce is much better than the commercial stuff. Place the fruit in a saucepan with some water, a long, wide strip of orange zest (without any of the bitter white pith), a pinch of salt and sugar to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook until the cranberries burst, then stir in fresh orange juice, simmer again then remove from the heat. The mixture will thicken as it cools; if necessary, stir in more water or orange juice. This is delicious with roast ham or turkey, or as a topping for vanilla ice cream. You can also spoon the cranberry sauce into baked tartlet shells. For cranberry sorbet, simmer the fruit in sugar syrup until soft then puree in a food processor. Strain through a fine sieve then refrigerate until completely chilled. Whisk in a little salt and fresh lemon juice then process in an ice-cream maker.