Did you know this about Cranberries?

Washington is the 5th largest cranberry growing state in the nation. Wisconsin grows the most, followed by Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon then Washington. Washington grows about 1700 acres of cranberries. The photo shows Washington cranberries just beginning to ripen.

  • Cranberries, blueberries and Concord grapes are the only fruits native to North America. Native Americans used cranberries to make pemmican. Pilgrims learned how to use cranberries from Native Americans.
  • Many of Washington’s cranberries are eaten fresh rather than processed. You may have seen advertisements showing cranberry bogs flooded for harvest. While some if this is done in Washington, about 60% of Washington cranberries are harvested dry. Dry harvesting works better for berries eaten fresh.
  • You’ve probably heard of Ocean Spray. Did you know it is a grower cooperative? That means the same farmers who grow the cranberries also own the company. Washington has many grower cooperatives. About 95% of the cranberry growers in Washington are members of a cooperative.
  • Ocean Spray has a cranberry processing plant near Aberdeen, WA. They make sweetened dried cranberries (Craisins) and cranberry sauce there. Ocean spray is a major employer in Aberdeen. The plant employs 145 workers and runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Every year it produces 20 million pounds of sweetened dried cranberries and 1.2 million cases of cranberry sauce.

How do cranberries grow?

Cranberries are an evergreen vine. A cranberry bed can remain productive for over 50 years if protected from insects and diseases. One bog planted in 1891 near Copalis is still in production today. Cranberry bogs support wetlands. Where cranberries grow, you will find bald eagles, osprey, great blue heron, deer, amphibians, bumblebees and migratory birds. Cranberry plants will not produce berries unless they are pollinated by bumblebees or honey bees.

Cranberry Buying Tips

Fresh cranberries can be found from September to December. They should appear deep red, plump, firm, and unbruised. Like all fruits and vegetables, they should be washed just before eating. Storage: Cranberries will stay fresh in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one month. Cranberries freeze beautifully. Wrap them in an airtight bag, squeeze out excess air, and they will keep for almost a year. Do not defrost when adding them to a recipe. (What’s Cooking America)

Cranberry Preparation

Fresh or frozen cranberries can be prepared by cooking until the skins “pop” or split. Most recipes include sugar since cranberries are very tart!

Cranberries can also be eaten raw – usually ground with orange and spices and plenty of sugar. This cranberry relish is most commonly served for Thanksgiving, but it is also delicious in yogurt or served with chicken or pork.

Many fruits and flavors combine well with cranberries, try oranges, apples, pears, ginger, cinnamon or cardamom.

Cranberry Nutrition

Cranberries are high in antioxidants that may help protect against heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Cranberries may also prevent ulcers. Cranberries are available fresh, in juice, sauce, and dried. One gallon ofjuice contains 3,333 cranberries.
(Cranberry Institute)
(What’s Cooking America)