The North American cranberry industry has a long and distinguished history.
Native peoples used cranberries as food, in ceremonies and medicinally.
Revolutionary War veteran Henry Hall planted the first commercial cranberry
beds in Dennis Massachusetts in 1816. Today cranberries are farmed on
approximately 40,000 acres (16,200 hectares) across the northern United
States and Canada.
The North American cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, Aiton, is
a member of the family Ericaceae that is composed of about 1350 species
including Scotch Heather (Calluna vulgaris), Rhododendrons (Rhododendron
spp.) and Blueberries (Vaccinium augustifolium, V. corymbosum).
Cranberries are a low-growing, vining, woody perennial plant with small,
alternate, ovate leaves. The plant produces stolons (horizontal stems)
up to 6 feet (2 m) long. Short vertical branches, or uprights, 2 to 8
inches (5 to 20 cm) in height, grow from buds on the stolons and these
can be either vegetative or fruiting. Each fruiting upright may contain
as many as seven flowers. Pollination is primarily via domestic honey
The majority of cranberries are harvested between September and October,
and occurs in one of two ways. By far the most common is wet or water
harvest. The beds are flooded and the fruit is "beaten" off
the vine using a specialized harvester. The floating fruit is then
corralled and loaded onto trucks for delivery to a receiving station.
Wet harvested fruit is used for processed cranberry products like juice
and sauce. Dry harvested fruit is "combed" from the vines
using a mechanized picking machine. No water is involved during this
process. The fruit is loaded into bins and shipped to receiving stations
where it is cleaned and packaged as fresh fruit. To see pictures of
both types of cranberry harvest visit the photo
Scientific research is revealing how healthful cranberries can be. Packed
with nutrients like antioxidants and other natural compounds, cranberries
are a great choice for the health conscious consumer. Cranberries are
available in a wide variety of forms including fresh fruit, juice, sauce,
and dried. Juices and sauce are available year-round at your grocery retailer.
Fresh fruit is generally available from September to December. Include
more cranberries in your diet today and start eating healthier today.