|East Falmouth cranberry bog,|
photo by Dorene Sykes Photography
Full of natural goodness, cranberries were first used by Native Americans as food, medicine, and dye. They continue to be used so today.
So, just how do those deep-red, tart berries get from the bog to us? Cranberries are harvested in two ways. In a dry harvest, berries are picked by hand or by machines that comb the berries off the vine. Dry harvested berries are what you see as fresh fruit and are most commonly used in baking and cooking. In a wet harvest, the bog is flooded and the water is agitated to remove the berries from the vines. As they float to the surface, they are gathered into a circle and pumped into a truck for removal and processing, eventually to be used for juices, sauces, and making dried cranberries. Ninety percent of the cranberry crop is wet harvested.
The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association was established in 1888 to support and promote the work of cranberry growers in Massachusetts. It is one of the oldest farmer organizations in the country. Visit their website at http://www.cranberries.org/index.html for more information about the traditions of cranberry growing, recipes, and how to visit a working cranberry bog.