Fruit of the Month
Cranberries grow on vines in boggy areas. Cranberries were first cultivated
in Massachusetts around 1815 and are only one of three major native North
American fruits. Some cranberry beds have been around for over 100 years.
Most of the U.S. cranberry crop is grown in only five states: Massachusetts,
Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. Each year, more than
110,000 metric tons of cranberries are produced in the United States. Most
cranberries are harvested by machine, but machines damage the berry.
Damaged berries are not suitable to sell fresh but work well for juices,
jellies, and other products. More than one-third of the cranberries grown in
the United States are made into juice. Fresh whole berries may be
purchased, but are often expensive because they have to be hand-picked to
avoid the damage caused by machine-picking.
Native Americans used cranberries for both their medicinal and natural
preservative powers. They brewed cranberry mixtures to draw poison from
arrow wounds. They also pounded cranberries into a paste and mixed the
paste with dried meat to extend the life of the meat.
The name cranberry was given to this plant because the Pilgrims believed the
plant looked like the head of a sandhill crane and was originally named
“craneberry.” Over time, the “e” was dropped.
Good, ripe cranberries will bounce,
which is why they are nicknamed
“bounceberries.” They should be shiny
and plump and range in color from
bright light red to dark red. Shriveled
berries or those with brown spots
should be avoided. Cranberries do not
ripen after harvest..
Store fresh cranberries in a tightly-
sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator.
As with all berries, if one starts
getting soft and decaying, the others
will quickly soften and decay also. Be
sure to sort out the soft ones if you
plan to store them for more than a
Fresh cranberries may last up to 2 months in the refrigerator. Cooked
cranberries can last up to a month in a covered container in the refr