Monday, October 12, 2009

Touring a Cranberry Bog

Quick! When you think of Massachusetts, what do you think of? Boston? Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower? Harvard & M.I.T.? Brian and me? (You DO think of us, don't you?)

How about cranberries!!

Cranberries are also a link back to the Pacific Northwest: Massachusetts is the second largest producer of cranberries in the states, and Oregon ranks fourth on the list.

This weekend my friends Daniel & Pauline went down to a local cranberry festival, and I got to go with them.

The generous farmers who opened their farm to visitors during harvest time allowed people to get up close to learn about the harvest process:

First, the field is flooded just a little bit, and a machine passes over the field to comb the berries off the plants. Then the field is flooded more to raise the berries up off the field. A giant, ropish thing corralls the berries so that the harvesters can push the berries into a giant underwater vacuum pipe...

Every berry must make it onto the truck!

The hose sucks the berries up onto a conveyer belt and dumps them into the truck.

Then they're off to be sorted. (An old fashioned sorter was on display.)

The plant pieces, the dirt, the shrivled ones, the white ones

get sorted from the good fruit.

This was a "wet harvest" which is used when the cranberries are harvested for juices, drying, and all other purposes than for fresh fruit.

Another type of machinery is used when the field is harvested "dry" for fresh fruit, such as this unflooded field:

Me with my produce - 6 lbs. of fresh cranberries!


sufferingsummer said...

My first thought IS you and Brian!
This looks like loads of, what are you going to do with your fresh cranberries?!

Melanie said...

Summer - both Brian and my friends asked me that! First, cranberry sauce. My favorite is Pioneer Woman's with maple syrup (a natural New England pairing!). The rest, I will bake with. I love breads and muffins with fresh cranberries - so much better than dried ones. My poor freezer is going to be stuffed with cranberries for the rest of the year!

Sarah said...

We used to have a book called A Cranberry Thanksgiving that I knew took place in New England somewhere. Was it an Ocean Spray farm? The truck you're standing by says it, or was that just for display? And...if you need another recipe for the cranberries, we made Mark Bittman's Autumn Millet Bake last week and it calls for fresh cranberries, we could only find dried but it was still delicious!

Melanie said...

Sarah - Technically, the farm we went to is not owned by Ocean Spray, but the farmers are members of the Ocean Spray co-op.

I found the recipe for the Autumn Millet Bake online. Where did you find millet? And did you find it in bulk, so you could only buy what you'd use for this dish?

meg said...

how fun! What are you going to do...wait, I just saw summer's comment and your reply...sounds delicious...

deanna said...

My fifth grade teacher was also a cranberry farmer. One day my dad took me out to his place, and I remember the three of us jumping on the springy ground. Fun.

Melanie said...

Deanna- Was that in Washington? What was springy - the field? We didn't walk on any fields - too much fruit!

Steph said...

Very cool!