Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Where Do Cranberries Come From?

I never knew the answer to that question until I came to Long Beach Peninsula a few years ago.  I thought they grew on tall bushes like blackberries.  Did you know they have been around longer than the pilgrims?  Native Americans crushed cranberries with dried deer meat and fat to create that tastiest of foods ... pemmican.  I don't think I'll try to reproduce that!!

This is the Pacific Coast Cranberry Research Station which used to be affiliated with Washington State University.  When it was closed in 1992, local cranberry farmers for Ocean Spray took over and have been harvesting ever since.  They have a great little museum full of old harvesting equipment and tools.
When I pulled into the parking lot, I was greeted by this little barky guy!!  What a cutey ... I bet he could be heard a mile away!!  The main reason I stopped is for a geocache.  It's under the rhododendron bush ... but they had about EIGHT bushes!!  I went inside to ask about it, but the sweet lady had no idea what I was talking about.
Eager to know why she had seen people in the bushes, she followed me outside while I explained all about the cool places and amazing history you can discover while geocaching.  I found the container and she helped me with the log before replacing it.  We may just have another convert!

From the museum, you can take a little walking tour down to the fields.  These vines grow for 50 years or more she said.  I was so surprised when I first came here to see these vines only 8-10 inches tall.  I was SURE those guys were waist deep in water.  When ready to harvest, the fields are flooded and machines run through the vines to strip the cranberries, which float because they are mostly hollow in the middle.  
Not quite ready for harvest, these beds were full of berries!!  Here's an interesting note ... the Washington berries are darker red than any other, so Ocean Spray mixes them with berries from back East which are pink, to make a better looking product.
I'm a big cranberry fan ... I have them on salad practically every single day.  There's lots of yummy cranberry things for sale in the museum, with just a few here that I picked up.  Quick bread, a mix to make scones and jalapeño cranberry jelly, with some cranberry taffy just for good measure.
Back at the rig, I made the cranberry nut streusel quick bread.  WOW!!!  You have to try this one.  It's orange cranberry flavored and perfect for breakfast or even dessert!!
There is one thing about staying this far North ... AT&T's tower is quite a distance away and service yesterday was terrible.  While in the rig, I used Anderson's free WiFi for cellular service, like maps, Facebook and geocaching.  I turned off everything I could so nothing would be running in the background taking up bytes.  While doing that, I accidentally turned ON the wrong thing.  Data Roaming.  The entire day I couldn't get anything to load.  Frustrated, I spent two hours back home trying to figure it out.

FINALLY, when I turned roaming OFF, everything came up that I had needed all day long ... like the geocaching site.  It was all my own fault!!  Having spent so much time on that and with nothing to cook for dinner, I drug out the old standby .. frozen hotdogs.  Here was my wonderful gourmet dinner.  It was actually pretty good and I didn't burn or cut anything I wasn't supposed to.
There hasn't been any wind to speak of, with overcast skies all day long, so when the sun came out about 7:00 pm, I trotted off to the beach with my camera.  The tide was way out as it's been negative for several days.  It's amazing to see just how far out the sand bars go before you hit the water's edge.  It would be perfect for surfing, but the rip tides are extreme here.  At any rate, that made for some awesome pictures, which I will show you tomorrow.  


  1. Good geocaching ambassador! Do you still have thr What is a Geocacher? business card we made to hand out to Mugglrs? I can send you the file if you want.

    1. I do not have it Barbara ... can you send it to me please?? Much as I love my puppies, this is much better than sitting all day!!

  2. I'll tell you where they came from. But first you better get a cuppa coffee as you know I'm long-winded
    Up in the Great Lakes area the lower part of Canada and the Pacific Northwest are all off shots of Cape Cod cranberry growers
    All all part of the Ocean Spray cranberry growers co-op however there are other growers that are not associated with this co-op and sell privately

    There are two kinds of cranberries
    Ones that are dry vine pick as you see in Ocean Spray bags at the grocery store as fresh well sort of
    When their pic for later future use their flash frozen
    As long as they stay dry and frozen they could last up to two years
    Now if the co-op knows that they're going to have a good crop usually in July thy make the decision to use the berries that have been frozen otherwise they hold back

    And they usually dark dark reddish purple that's because they're left on the vine to grow a little longer And picked in mid-to late September The prices for dry cranberries is usually about 15% more per barrel A lot of that is due to labor intense

    Now the wet pick is a different story
    There are usually picked in the beginning of September
    At that stage the bog is flooded to 12 inch and The berries on the vines. Float just a little below the surface The machine that they use is similar to a paddle wheel where a beats the vine and the berry floats,,to the grower this is an inferior berry due to its Color and amount of water that it does or does not get if you have a lot of vine cover this is what a grower likes best
    lighter the ground cover makes the berry lighter in color
    The color doesn't make any difference to the cranberry grower because those are usually used as sauce and juices you'll notice on the bottle it will say artificial coloring and the price is fixed per barrel
    OK heres a little history
    The Indians were using cranberries long before white man ever settle on the shores
    Cranberries were very plentiful and they grew wild an they still doing certain areas
    My history of cranberries goes back to Mr. Hall's grandson
    Harry hall was a native of Dennis Massachusetts
    His great grandson also was a cranberry grower and our next-door neighbor and a very crotchety SOB (I was very young boy and scared of him him )but as a grower he was a good teacher The Cranberry growing Hall family name died off after his death

    From Google

    American whalers and mariners carried cranberries on their voyages to prevent scurvy. In 1816, Captain Henry Hall became the first to successfully cultivate cranberries. By 1871, the first association of cranberry growers in the United States had formed, and now, U.S. farmers harvest approximately 40,000 acres of cranberries each year.

    The History of Cranberry Production
    In 1910 the more efficient, but still labor intensive, rocker scoop replaced earlier scoops used to harvest cranberries.

    Of all fruits, only three - the blueberry, the Concord grape and the cranberry can trace their roots to North American soil.

    The cranberry helped sustain Americans for hundreds of years. Native Americans used cranberries in a variety of foods, the most popular was pemmican - a high protein combination of crushed cranberries, dried deer meat and melted fat - they also used it as a medicine to treat arrow wounds and as a dye for rugs and blankets.

    Cultivation of the cranberry began around 1816, shortly after Captain Henry Hall, of Dennis, Massachusetts, noticed that the wild cranberries in his bogs grew better when sand blew over them. Captain Hall began transplanting his cranberry vines, fencing them in, and spreading sand on them himself. When others heard of Hall's technique, it was quickly copied. Continuing throughout the 19th century, the number of growers increased steadily.

    1. See what interesting stuff you can find out just by geocaching???

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  4. If you like cranberries that much heres a real quick recipe get a bag of cranberries wash them pick out the bad ones
    Take your sauce pan put in three quarters of a cup of water 2 cups of cranberries and about three quarters cup of sugar
    Bring that all to a light summer with a potato masher mash the berries let it simmer for 10 minutes for a thicker sauce add more sugar
    Put it in a jar put it in your refrigerator and you have cranberry sauce

    Now for thanksgiving Take 1 1/2 Cut up navel oranges (seedless ) put them in your blender and crush put in a separate container
    them add 2 cups of cranberries Crush those in a blender and add that to the Orange container
    Now I add one full cup of cane sugar and mix it all up you can use regular sugar
    Put it in the refrigerator covered
    Now if you could stay away from the refrigerator you'll have enough to serve your guests
    See no cooking and minimal use of cutlery required you now have Orange cranberry relish
    I use cane sugar instead of regular white sugar it has a sweeter more molasses taste

  5. During the Cranberrian Festival in mid-October, you can watch them harvest those cranberries.

    1. I would love to see that Carol, but have to be in California in October. Maybe next year I can stick around!!

  6. Thanks Carol I wasn't sure when your harvest season is up there.
    In New England they dry pic than wet then they flood the bugs so the frost doesn't kill the plants and when they freeze they make great skating rings