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Tart but Smart

They just want you to know that cranberries kick ass in oh so many ways.

Did you know?

    History

    The North American cranberry industry has a long and distinguished history. Native peoples used cranberries as food, in ceremonies and medicinally. 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.

    Botany

    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.

    Harvest Information

    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. To see pictures of both types of cranberry harvest visit the photo gallery.

    Consumer Information

    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.

Think about that before you disdain that gelatinous blood-red cyninder on your Thanksgiving dinner table.

And if you need some VERY last-minute help with the Thanksgiving Day feast preparation, Ocean Spray has a nice how-to site including planning, tools, menus, recipes, crafts, family fun, and leftovers – remarkable how many references to cranberries they make.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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