Cranberries are beautiful carmine red berries. Cranberries grow on tendrils that are seven to ten centimeters long. The cranberry is spherical or pear-shaped with a diameter of up to 2 centimeters. When picked raw, cranberries are rock-hard and not tasty to eat.
The harvest also takes place after the first frost, because then they are juicier. As a growing place, the cranberry prefers acidic, wet soil. The cranberries that we buy in the supermarket often come from America.
The cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) or large cranberry, belongs to the family of various heather plants (Ericaceae). The cranberry originated in North America. In Massachusetts and Wisconsin, among others. But the cranberry can also be found in the Netherlands. Far from the original cradle of North America, we also find cranberry bushes in the dunes on Terschelling.
The cranberry harvest starts from mid-September to mid-November. The cranberries are harvested in two ways:
- the wet harvest;
- the dry harvest.
The Wet Harvest
The American grower floods the cranberry land with water the evening before the cranberries are harvested. Due to the movement of the water (which is artificially initiated), the berries are released from the vines and float to the top. The cranberry has four air chambers and therefore floats on the water instead of sinking back to the bottom. The next day, the cranberries are collected by a floating belt, steered and held by men in high waders, and put into crates for further transport to processing plants.
The Dry Harvest
The berries can be harvested dry in several ways:
- Manual. In Terschelling and Texel, part of the cranberries are picked by hand. The picking container under the arm and carefully picked. They must arrive at the retailer undamaged.
- rake buckets. A container with metal pins at the bottom with a space of one to two centimeters in between. The bottom goes over the cranberry bushes and the berries are stripped off in no time.
- machine. A machine that resembles a lawnmower. The metal pins move automatically and ‘comb’ the cranberries from the vine. The berries are collected in a jute bag behind the machine. Heavy trucks will destroy the fragile cranberry bush and therefore the full jute bags are transported by helicopter to the processing plants.
The Little Cranberry
In addition to the large cranberry (cranberry), we also know the small cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos, synonym: Oxycoccus palustris.) Similar to the cranberry, but slightly smaller. Beautiful red, edible berries and pink flowers in May-June. The spherical berries (8-10 mm) are on very thin thread-like tendrils.
Cranberries Are Associated With Christmas
A ripe cranberry is fresh and sour. But a ripe cranberry is hard. That is precisely why it makes a cranberry suitable for processing.
Around Christmas, cranberries are widely available fresh. They are beautiful to make a Christmas decoration, but even better to use for a delicious compote of cranberries. In America, cranberry sauce is inseparable from Thanksgiving and turkey. A sauce with a fresh sour and spicy taste.
- 500-gram verse cranberry;
- Zest half a lemon;
- Juice of half a lemon;
- Sugar to taste.
Method Of Preparation
Wash the cranberries and put them in a saucepan and add the zest and juice of half a lemon. Add a cup of water and bring everything to a boil. When it boils, reduce the heat and stir regularly until the cranberries are soft. Let the compote cool until lukewarm and add sugar as needed.
The Cranberry Processed
Not only around Christmas where the warm cranberries go well with game dishes, but cranberries can also be processed into:
- cranberry juice (this appears to work well to reduce and stop cystitis or to prevent a bladder infection preventively);
- decoration in floral art;
- cold over custard;
- dried. A delicious snack packed with vitamins and antioxidants.