It's All About the Pine Barrens!
The Magnificent Cranberry!
The North American cranberry industry has a long and distinguished history. Native peoples used cranberries as food, in ceremonies and medicinally. They mixed cranberries with deer meat to make pemmican, a convenience food that could be kept for a long time. Medicine men used them as poultices to draw poison from arrow wounds, and women used the juice as a dye for cloth. In New Jersey, the Delaware Indians used them as peace symbols. They got their name, “crane berries,” from the early German and Dutch settlers who thought their blossoms resembled the neck and head of a crane.
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.
Cranberry cultivation in New Jersey is believed to have begun In 1840. The State Board of Agriculture report of 1874 states that in 1840 a man by the name of John Webb established a cranberry bog in Ocean County near Cassville, and it is reported that he received $50.00 per barrel for his cranberries. They were bought by ship merchants who sold them to whalers. Cranberries were kept on board ships in barrels of cold water for the sailors to eat. They contained Vitamin C and helped ward off scurvy, which plagued seafarers on long trips. When Cranberry grower Elizabeth Lee of New Egypt decided to boil some damaged berries instead of throwing them away, she liked the tasty jelly so much she started a business selling "Bog Sweet Cranberry Sauce." That was the beginning of the Ocean Spray company, which still operates in New Jersey today!
New Jersey is currently the third largest cranberry producing area in the United states following Massachusetts and Wisconsin. Currently, New Jersey has approximately 3,600 acres while Massachusetts has 11,000 acres. Burlington, Atlantic, and Ocean counties are major cranberry growing areas in New Jersey. The native fruit is also grown in Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Middlesex, and Monmouth counties.
The state's leading cranberry grower is William S. Haines of Chatsworth, who has over 700 acres planted in cranberries. Haines' family has a history of cranberry growing. His grandfather, Cap Haines, a Civil War veteran, built cranberry bogs in an area known as The Birches "about 1895," according to Bill.
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 bees.
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" of 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.
There are cranberry Farms all across the area, but some are more visitor-friendly. Double Trouble State Park (the location of the harvest photos) is open to the public and there is no entry fee. It's located in Berkeley Township, just off the Garden State Parkway. The tentative harvest date for 2009 is October 10 - 15. To confirm, call 1-732-341-4098.
Directions: Garden State Parkway South: Take exit 77, turn left off exit ramp, travel south on Double Trouble Road to traffic signal. Park entrance is straight ahead across Pinewald Keswick Road. Garden State Parkway North: Take exit 77, turn left. Travel 1/4 mile Park entrance is on the left.
Cloverdale Farm County Park is located just off the Garden State Parkway also. The bogs here are in the process of being renovated. Most of the old farm buildings are still standing, but are closed to the general public.
Whitesbog Village is part of Brendan T. Byrne State Forest. Within the farm area are both blueberry and cranberry farms. Tours are offered most weekends.
Cranberry Fun Facts!
There are approximately 450 cranberries
in a pound, 4,500 cranberries in one gallon of juice, and 45,000 cranberries
in a 100-pound barrel.
Of all fruits, only three - the blueberry, the Concord grape and the cranberry, can trace their roots to North American soil. And of those, none is as versatile as the cranberry.
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.
Cardiovascular -Health Preliminary research shows that cranberries have the ability to decrease total cholesterol and LDL, or bad cholesterol, and increase blood flow.
Anti-Cancer -Cranberries are rich in flavonoids.
These phytonutrients have been shown to inhibit certain types of cancer.
Ulcers - New research suggests compounds found in Cranberries may inhibit ulcer-causing bacteria from sticking to the stomach wall.
Anti-Aging -Polyphenolic compounds found in Cranberry may help to protect against neurodegenerative diseases, and the memory and coordination losses often associated with aging.
Urinary Tract Infection - The Proanothcyanidins found in Cranberries can prevent urinary tract infections by inhibiting E. coli bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract wall. The National Kidney Foundation recommends drinking at least one large glass of cranberry juice a day to help maintain urinary tract health.
1 package fresh cranberries
Place sugar, salt and liquid in saucepan, bring to slow boil until sugar is dissolved. Place berries and zest in pan. Cook over slow heat for about ten minutes, until cranberries pop. Remove from heat; stir in nuts and let cool.
Leftover sauce makes a delicious dip:
Serve with crackers - very festive, and great with wine!
I've used this recipe with a can of Mandarin oranges. I used the juice with water to equal one cup and cut the sugar just a bit. After the cranberries pop, I added chopped orange pieces, and let it cool.
Cranberry Cole Slaw
1 cup cranberries coarsely chopped
Combine cranberries, cabbage celery green
pepper and grapes. Mix juice, mayonnaise, honey and vinegar and mix with
fruits and veggies. Chill until served. time.
Combine cabbage and dried cranberries; add mayonaise to desired creaminess. Refrigerate for several hours, then slowly add salt and sugar, mixing thoroughly and tasting after each addition. Best if refrigerated overnight, allowing cranberries to plump.
Quick Cran-carrot Salad
One package pre-shredded carrots
Rinse and drain carrots; mix all ingredients together and refrigerate overnight.
Cranberry Mallow Pie
32 large marshmallows or 3 cups miniature
Combine marshmallows and cranberry sauce in a medium saucepan. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly, just until marshmallows are melted. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour or until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon. Beat whipping cream and vanilla in a small mixing bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir cranberry mixture until blended; fold gently into whipped cream. Pour into crust. Chill until set, at least 5 hours. For a cool treat on a hot day, try freezing the Cranberry Mallow Pie until firm. To serve, garnish slices with additional sweetened whipped cream, if desired. Makes 6 servings.
Cranberry Party Meatballs
2 1-pound bags frozen cocktail-size meatballs
(about 64 meatballs)
Combine cranberry sauce, chili sauce, cumin and cayenne in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the cranberry sauce is melted and smooth. Add meatballs; stir gently to coat. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes or until meatballs are heated through. Place in chafing dish or slow cooker to keep warm.
1 package cream cheese
Combine first 4 ingredients
with an electric mixer until smooth. Fold in zest, nuts and cranberries.
Refrigerate to blend flavors. Serve with bagels, crackers or fruit.
Cranberry Spinach Salad
Mix the spinach with cranberries and nuts to taste, top with crumbled goat cheese and top with honey lime dressing- scrumptious!
Leftover chicken (or turkey), preferably white meat
Chop chicken into small pieces; chop craisins and pecans; dice celery. mix all ingredients together and serve! It's a wonderful but easy treat!
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