so... this saturday we went to plymouth to see how cranberries are harvested! i had no clue how they do that, so i was curious, and we were supposed to also go cranberry picking ourselves... all i know is; they are plentiful in supermarkets during the fall and early winter, and cheap! (especially when compared to the netherlands).
so.... above you see how they do 95% of the cranberry harvest: they flood the field where the plants are growing when they are ripe (6 to 8 inches of water above the vines), and then they move over them with the machines you see above. the only thing these machines do is creating movement, which is sufficient for the cranberries to leave the vines. as they have airpockets inside (you know that when you have ever cut into a raw cranberry; they are mostly empty inside!), they will float up. it was a beautiiful sight! see the pink glow? those are the cranberries coming right up after the machine. when they have done the entire field, its one sea of reddish pinkness, and then they are pumped out of the bog into a truck, ready for processing! i think one field takes about 1-2 hours in total, and gives you a truckload of cranberries!! those are then flashfrozen or processed into juices and such, as those wet harvested berries tend to rot within 2-3 days, and are more damaged than if you were to pick them dry (thats the other 5% of the cranberry harvest; the bags of fresh ones you see in the supermarket). we got to bite into a fresh cranberry; yegh! not tasty at all... so sour! (funny also that ive bought cranberries quite often, but never had the urge to bite into one before i turn them into cakes and pies).
we were supposed to get an entire tour of the farm, and speak with the farmers, but there were many, many people, and organization was a chaos... :( we also never got to pick our own cranberries, so "picking some fruit while in the us" is still on my list. but.... we did each get a pound of fresh cranberries, some of which i turned into this very tasty cake, and some dried cranberries, which i used in a whole-wheat bread, together with pecan nuts. yumyumyum!! we still have a LOT of fresh cranberries left, so i cant wait to make something else with them... luckily, they dont go bad that fast, apparently you can keep them in a cool dry place for at least 3 months!
here on flickr i posted some more pictures of the entire cranberry-harvesting-process.