FUN FACTS:

  1. There are three fruits native to North America, and the cranberry is one of them.
  2. Americans consume nearly 400 million pounds of cranberries per year, 20% of them during Thanksgiving week.
  3. Only about 5% of cranberries produced in the U.S. are sold fresh and the remaining 95% are processed, most commonly for juice and juice blends. (Agmrc.org)
  4. Most cranberries grown in the U.S. come from Wisconsin, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Washington (marthastewart.com)
  5. Cranberries are rarely eaten raw because of their sharp and sour taste.
  6. The average number of cranberries used per can of sauce is 200. (Oceanspray.com)

HOW ARE CRANBERRIES GROWN AND HARVESTED?

We have all seen the Ocean Spray cranberry juice commercial where the farmers are up To their waists in water surrounded by a sea of plump, ripe, red cranberries. For someone who doesn’t know the ins and outs of farming cranberries, one would conclude that cranberries grow in water. However, that isn’t the case.

Cranberries, a perennial plant, grow on a vine in a bog or marsh (depending on the location) that look like small shrubs that go dormant in the winter. While growing, the bog or marsh is kept dry except for rain that occurs naturally. When ready, only the berries are harvested, not the entire plant. The night before the harvest, the bog/marsh is flooded with water, about 18 inches or so. A water reel machine, called an “eggbeater” will then run through and loosen all the berries from the plant. Cranberries have tiny pockets of air, which allow them to float to the surface and be collected. (Agriculture.com)

PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE

According to Healthline.com, “Cranberries contain unique phytonutrients known as A-type proanthocyanidins or condensed tannins. A-type proanthocyanidins prevent E. coli from attaching to the lining of your bladder and urinary tract, making cranberries a potential preventive measure against UTIs,” which is most often caused by “the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli), attaching itself to the inner surface of the bladder and urinary tract.”

CRANBERRY FESTIVALS

The Cranberry Blossom Festival

Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin

Located in the heart of cranberry country, this annual June festival is filled with live music, a parade, arts and crafts, carnivals and culinary delights that celebrate all things cranberry. Blossomfest.com

Warrens Cranberry Festival

Warrens, Wisconsin

The Warrens Cranberry Festival, celebrated the last full weekend in September, is located in the “Cranberry Capital of Wisconsin,” and features a variety of attractions for all ages. There are 850 Arts & Craft booths, 350 Flea Market and Antique dealers,100 food booths, a variety of contests and one of the largest marching band parades in Wisconsin. Visitors can also board a bus and tour a working cranberry marsh! cranfest.com

Cranberry Fest

Bordentown City, New Jersey

This two day family friendly event in October features over 150 crafters, artists and vendors. There is also a “craft” beer garden, live music throughout both days and a family friendly kids zone. Btowncranfest.com

Cranberry Festival

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Located at the Milestone Cranberry bog, the Nantucket Cranberry Festival is a popular event among adults and children! Here you can learn about the history of cranberry farming, demonstrations, indulge in delectable cranberry treats and enjoy the music and the spectacular autumn scenery. Nantucketconservation.org

ADDITIONAL WAYS TO ENJOY THE CRANBERRY

CRANBERRY WALNUT CREAM CHEESE

  • Microwave 3⁄4 cup cranberries with 1.5 tablespoons of granulated sugar in microwave safe bowl until they become soft.
  • Chop walnuts and set aside.
  • Beat 8 oz of plain cream cheese until smooth/creamy texture.
  • Add walnuts and cranberries to cream cheese and mix together with spoon.
  • Serve with bagels, crackers or apples.
  • Cover and chill remaining

CRANBERRY APPLE SPIKED CIDER

In a crock pot, warm on low…

  • 3 cups cranberry cocktail
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 3 cups of apple cider Tangerine peel (cleaned)
  • 3 whole cloves
  • cinnamon sticks

For spiked version:

  • Add a shot of dark rum to your mug prior to adding in cider.

For sweet version:

  • Top with fresh whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon.

by Nicole Irving