Cranberry Harvest

Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's that time of the year again. Those plastic packages of tart little ruby-red fruits are making their limited-time appearance in the produce aisles again. Soon they'll be turned into sauces, salsas, pies and all sorts of delectable culinary inventions. Yes, it's cranberry time!

Earlier this month, I had the chance to witness a cranberry harvest for the first time. I was in Cape Cod for a couple of days and was fortunate to run into the 4th Annual Falmouth Cranberry Harvest Festival. What a beautiful sight to see.

Cranberries grow in bogs (wetlands) and are picked from the plants using one of two methods: wet harvest or dry harvest. This one, obviously, was wet. When it's time to pick the berries, the farmers block the river that runs through the bog, allowing it to flood. In this photo, you can see the berries on the plants under the water.

The farmers use thrasher machines to strip the fruits from the plants. The cranberries float to the surface. Then they are gathered and vacuumed up with a giant hose that sucks them into a delivery truck headed for the Ocean Spray processing plant. Cranberries harvested by the wet method are used for juices and jams. (Dry-harvested cranberries are the ones that are sold fresh, in the bags.) So if you ever drank a glass of Ocean Spray cranberry juice, you might have had cranberries from this bog!

Did you know? Cranberries are one of only three fruits that are native to North America. Blueberries and Concord grapes are the other two.

Native Americans used cranberries for centuries, but the Pilgrims were credited for giving these healthful berries their modern name. They called them "crane berries," because the flower of the cranberry plant curls over like the neck of a crane. Eventually, that evolved into "cranberry."

And those white cranberries that are popular now in juice? They are simply a younger version of the red ones. All cranberries turn from white to red. The white ones are harvested earlier in the fall. They are sweeter than the red ones.

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted this week by Fiber of 28 Cooks. Visit Fiber's site on Sunday for a re-cap of blog posts featuring vegetables, plants, flowers and herbs.


Blogger Kalyn Denny said...

Wow, great job on this. I would give you an A+ for research. I didn't know hardly any of this. I need to buy some cranberies soon.

12:30 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

I miss cranberries! But I'm going back to Wisconsin for Christmas so I'll get my fill of cranberry bread, sauce, juice, compote, jellie, muffins.....

4:28 AM  
Blogger David (Snappy) said...

Beautiful post.Quite informative too.I look at ocean spray cranberry juice differently now.its so cool the berrys under the water!

7:07 PM  
Blogger Jessica Harwood said...

I enjoyed this post too. Great pictures and information!

7:45 PM  
Blogger Silvia Hoefnagels . Salix Tree said...

Great post! I always wondered if I could grow cranberries in my garden. Well, we are in the middle of bogland here, so I should give it a try! We will be using the dry method of harvest! :-}

4:09 AM  
Blogger iml said...

Sure did not know that cranberries are grown in bogs submerged. Interesting. Thanks for the information.

7:43 PM  
Blogger JMom said...

Great information on cranberries! Thanks for sharing.

4:40 PM  
Blogger BUSY MOM said...


9:30 PM  

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