Friday, October 26, 2012

Cranberry Adventures

Since my last post we've definitely left our unusually long, sunny summer behind. That first weekend that it started raining, we headed to the Coast with our friend Caitlin to pick cranberries. It was a very soggy day, but it was still fun. 

Do you know much about cranberries? Well, I certainly didn't. All I knew of cranberries was the pictures of flooded cranberry bogs--that, and the prepackaged bags of berries we buy at the grocery stores. Long Beach has a fairly significant cranberry industry. Mom found a farm that offered u-pick cranberries. When we got there we found that both the u-pick and pre-picked berries were offered on a complete honor system.  
Those bins are full of berries. For six dollars, you're welcome to take a gallon bag of them.

"Pick. Weigh. Pay. Enjoy." Honor system u-pick.
The pre-picked berries weren't a bad deal, but the u-pick was even better--50 cents a pound, so we wanted to try. This was dry harvesting. We just walked out into the unflooded field and combed berries out of the vines. It wasn't that bad, except for two things. Cranberries grow very low to the ground, so lots of bending. Also, it rained the whole time we were in the field, and we were getting pretty soaked. So, after a brave effort at u-pick, we supplemented with pre-picked berries.

Cranberries peeking out from the vines. 

Our u-pick harvest.

Pre-picked for the taking.

  One strange thing about this farm. We had to walk through this band of holly trees to get to the cranberry field, and for some reason the owners had chosen to decorate it with strange statues and this rocking chair. I didn't feel like photographing the statues, but I thought the chair looked interesting. 

After getting our berries, we headed over to the cranberry museum (yes, there is an actual cranberry museum in Long Beach). They were harvesting a bog while we were there. This is the wet harvest method that I had known of before. They flood the bog, then use machines to free the berries from the vines.

All the cranberries float to the surface, so that they can be gathered together and drawn out of the water.

It was a fun trip, and I certainly learned a thing or two about cranberries. Now we have a nice store of them in the freezer. Thanks, Caitlin, for going with us!