Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Yummy Cranberries

One of the things on my bucket list was to visit a cranberry farm in New Jersey. I was curious as to how cranberries were harvested. I love cranberries!

New Jersey is the third largest producing area of cranberries in the United States. My husband and I traveled to Burlington County to the Chatsworth Cranberry Festival in hopes of being able to tour some of the cranberry bogs. What an interesting afternoon it was!

The festival was jam packed with people and vendors with food, crafts, and cranberry everything. As we walked through the crowded streets we stopped to ask where where we were to go to sign up for the Cranberry Bog Tour. We were given directions to a quaint country church in this cute little town, just a few blocks from where we stood.

As we approached, a local school bus awaited us with three students from the area schools that would be our tour guides. The ride to the bogs was about 15 minutes from Chatsworth. During this time the students filled us with information about the bogs and the harvest process.

The first cranberry bogs were established around 1840. Ship merchants bought the fields and sold the cranberries to whalers. They were kept in barrels on ships for the sailors to eat. The antioxidants contained in the cranberries help ward off diseases.

It was not until later that Elizabeth Lee boiled some damaged berries and discovered the taste and loved it so much she started a business. This was the beginning of the Ocean Spray Company, still operating in New Jersey today. One of our tour guides was a young girl that happened to be from a seventh generation cranberry farmer family. Her mother's photo is featured on the Ocean Spray bottle.

New Jersey is the third largest cranberry producing area in the United States with approximately 3,600 acres. Burlington, Atlantic and Ocean counties are the primary cranberry growing areas.

Cranberries are usually harvested in September and October. They may be water harvested (as you see in the below photos) or they may be dry harvested which is combing the vines with a picking machine. The water harvested fruit becomes juice and sauce, the dry harvested is cleaned and packed as fresh fruit.

The following are a series of photos that will give you an idea of what the bogs look like and how a harvest takes place.

After purchasing these beautiful fresh cranberries I couldn't wait to get home and make something with them. The Cranberry Harvest Muffins below are an Ina recipe that is so delicious! They made so many the tray is off to the office with my husband. Think of all of those colleagues and how happy they will be to know the great antioxidant benefits of cranberries against heart disease, cancer, anti-aging, ulcers and urinary tract infections.

This is the link to Ina's recipe:

I hope you enjoyed my blog on Cranberry Harvesting. Have a healthy day!