Berries grow close to the ground, protected by dense vines in natural wetlands called bogs or marshes
Native to North America, cranberries were first cultivated in 1816.
Under the right conditions, a cranberry vine can grow indefinitely.
Some vines in Cape Cod, Mass., are more than 150 years old – and are still bearing fruit.
Fresh market cranberries are “dry harvested,” a slow, labor-intensive process that uses a machine to rake berries out of the low-lying vines.
Because the cranberry industry is relatively small and specialized, farmers often customize their own equipment. Dry harvesting machinery, for example, was modified from a riding lawnmower and a rake.
Dry harvest is less efficient than a wet harvest. Most bogs are flooded after a dry harvest to gather remaining berries.
When a bog is flooded, machines called water reels, nicknamed “egg beaters” are used to stir up the berries for harvest.
Only about 10% of cranberries are dry harvested for the fresh market. The remaining supply is wet harvested and frozen for processing at a later date.
Cranberries are measured by ‘barrels,’ which are 100 lbs.
There are about 44,000 cranberries per barrel.
Cranberries need chill hours to darken their color from a creamy white to deep red. The color change does not have a dramatic effect on flavor.
Cranberries have chambers that trap pockets of air inside the fruit, which makes them float.
Pamela Riemenschneider, AD Makepeace