Those tasty but tart little berries have become seasonal favorites. Grandma’s recipe still comes out once a year and memories are served up in her heirloom dishes.
Scroll all the way to the bottom to learn how to submit your family cranberry recipe in the Aging Gracefully Recipe Book.
How much do you really know about these fascinating and fun little edible red beads?
Cranberries are low-trailing perennial vine plants that can bear fruit for more than 60 years. Some families have made a science of growing cranberries for multiple generations.
As one of only a handful of fruits native to North America, cranberries were used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes and, also as a red dye for coloring blankets, clothing or rugs.
How are Cranberries Grown?
Cranberries are NOT grown in water like many seem to think, but their acidic and sandy bogs are intentionally flooded with water twice a year by design.
Growers Flood the Cranberry Bogs
In the winter, growers flood the fields to insulate the plants from frost. In the spring, the bogs are drained to care for the precious cranberry plants and sow additional plants as needed. The berries come to bloom for 10 to 12 days before beginning to fruit. Berries are seen by mid-June, going from green to white and finally to a bright red fruit in the fall.
When the fruit is ripened by fall, growers flood their bogs again, making the harvest easier and possibly gentler on the plants. Cranberries have four inner air chambers that make them float. Harvesting machines churn the water and knock the fruit from the vine so that floating ropes can gather the berries, directing them toward an intake that sweeps them to a conveyor belt and into bins.
From Farm to Table
The cranberries are loaded onto trucks and taken away to be cleaned, sorted, processed, or bagged for purchase at stores. Only 5% of cranberries are sold in bags as fresh fruit. The rest is converted to sauce, jelly, juice, and Craisins. American cranberry recipes date back to the early 1800s. Now, at least 20% of cranberries are eaten during the week of Thanksgiving.
Fun Cranberry Facts
- Those tart little cranberries are high in natural anti-inflammatory properties.
- The word cranberry transitioned from Crane Berry. The vine blossoms resemble the neck, head, and bill of Sandhill Cranes.
- 97% of the world’s cranberries are produced in U.S. and Canada, with the majority grown in Wisconsin, where the cranberry is designated as their State Fruit.
- Wisconsin hosts a Cranberry Discovery Center in a former cranberry warehouse in Warrens with historical exhibits, videos, a cranberry ice cream parlor, and a gift shop with more than 200 products made from Wisconsin cranberries.
- Ocean Spray is the oldest grower-owned cooperative in the country, with over 600 growers from Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington (as well as British Columbia, Quebec, and Chili) contributing to its success.
Do You Have a Favorite Cranberry Recipe to Share?
Send your favorite cranberry recipe to Info@AgingGracefully.TV to be published in an upcoming cookbook next year!
Share your thoughts in the comment box below…
Do YOU enjoy cranberries around the holidays?
If cranberries are just one of a few native fruits, do you know what the other native fruits are from North America?
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