Did you know that Massachusetts is one of the largest cranberry producers in the country?! This year’s bountiful crop will yield one of the largest harvests on record and will have you seeing red…in a good way. Many believe that cranberries grow in water, but surprise! They grow on vines and contain small pockets of air, which is why they float. Now is the time for the everyday person to take part in their own personal cranberry adventure. The cranberry was made for more than just sauce on the holiday dinner table, and should be enjoyed all year round.
Massachusetts is home to about 469 hard-working cranberry farms with over 14,000 acres of bog, with 16 farms open to the public for exploration. See the bog, speak with harvesters, purchase berries, products, and join in seasonal festivities. Slip on some waders, splash into the bog, and help with the harvest for the “be the grower” experience. Most farms host school, youth or private groups and are handicapped accessible. To find a bog near you visit http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/index.htm. There are acres to choose from!
The annual Cranberry Harvest Celebration in Wareham is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to get to know the fruit and the farmers. This year, the 9th anniversary celebration takes place Columbus Day weekend; October 6 & 7 from 10am-4pm. Featuring guided tours, helicopter rides, artist/craft vendors, live entertainment, pony and train rides, cooking demonstrations, bounce house, and food vendors, the festival is fun and educational, allowing celebrators to engage in the unique world of cranberry-growing while enjoying the scenic autumn outdoors. It also serves as an annual fundraiser for local non-profit organizations. Visit www.cranberryharvest.org.
Historically the cranberry was used medicinally to treat wounds, diabetes, liver problems, and stomach ailments. It is a nutritional and antibacterial powerhouse high in vitamins C and K, manganese, and fiber, with phytochemicals that may protect the body’s cells from damage and disease. Cranberries may be beneficial for stomach, heart, and dental health, kidney stones, yeast infections, cataracts, cognitive decline, cholesterol and cancer prevention. To yield health benefits, consuming 1 ½ c. of fresh or frozen, 1 oz. dried, ½ c. cooked berries, or 4-6 oz. of juice daily is suggested.
Don’t wait for Thanksgiving! Incorporate these ruby red gems into your mealtime with these recipes for Cranberry Avocado Salsa and Grilled Portabella Mushrooms with Cranberry and Sausage Stuffing, courtesy of the CCCGA at www.cranberries.org. Enjoy fresh from the bog cranberries now, and frozen or dried year round. Attend the harvest celebration, visit a farm for an agritourism outing, or cook up something new and enticing this fall season! Deepen your knowledge, nourish your body, and tickle your taste buds as often as possible this cranberry season!