Fresh cranberries are in season from early fall through December. When buying, look for packages with shiny, bright red (light or dark) berries. Avoid berries that are bruised, shriveled or have brown spots.
Ripe cranberries should bounce when dropped, which is why cranberries are sometimes called bounceberries.
Refrigerate fresh unwashed cranberries for about 1 month. If you don't plan on using the berries within a few days, sort out any soft or bruised ones.
To freeze cranberries, place them in a single layer on a 13-inch x 9-inch baking pan. When frozen, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 1 year. Freezing berries individually allows you to measure only as many as needed.
Just before using, quickly rinse the cranberries and pluck off any stems.
When cooking cranberries to make a sauce, cook them until they crack and pop. This allows the sugar to penetrate the tart fruit.