A small red fruit that’s bursting with nutrition, the cranberry is a treasure that by now is deeply embedded in the culinary heritage of Quebec. Production has risen astronomically over the past decade (and we’re absolutely thrilled about that!).
But who can really claim to know all about this little red gem?
That would be us!!
And we’re super excited to reveal some of the untold secrets of the bogs…the cranberry bogs.
The blueberry is the cranberry’s younger cousin
Who knew? Cranberries grow on a shrub belonging to the family Ericaceae, and they’re related to the blueberry and the bilberry. So we’re still in our “field” (ho ho) of expertise with our dried wild blueberries.
Once a bog is planted, it takes three years for organic cranberries to produce their first fruit
Yup! You need to be really patient before you taste your first organically grown cranberry. (It’s no coincidence that our name is Patience Fruit!)
Quebec is not the only place where cranberries are grown
Quebec ranks second in world cranberry production, after Wisconsin. For the past few years, we’ve harvested an average of 110,000 tonnes of berries a year here. Of course, cranberries are especially fond of the cool temperate regions of North America and northern Europe.
A berry by any other name: Atoqua, ibimi, bearberry, craneberry, fenberry…
Early European settlers called the cranberry “craneberry,” because the flowers on the shrubs resembled the beak of the crane. Of course, the Indigenous peoples were picking wild cranberries long before the Europeans arrived. They called it “atoqua,” and used it for cooking and for its medicinal properties. The French name “canneberge” comes from the English “cranberry.”
Cranberries grow in sand (well, sort of)
There’s a lot of confusion about the way cranberries are grown, and no wonder. You can blame it on the photos of cranberries floating in the bogs at harvest time. Well, here’s a surprise: cranberries actually do grow in the ground, in sandy, acid, poor soil, and they don’t need any more water than your front lawn!
Cranberries are white until they get ripe
If cranberries are picked before maturity, they’re white, because the pigments haven’t had time to develop. If you’ve ever tasted an unripe cranberry, you know that they’re slightly less tangy than mature cranberries.
Cranberries are lighter than water
And that unique property explains why they can float! Cranberry producers take full advantage of that fact. They’ve found a really smart way to harvest the berries: they flood the fields! Then the plants are stirred around so the fruit detaches from the bushes and comes to the surface of the water.
Fresh cranberries can be refrigerated for up to three months
You may be surprised to learn that fresh cranberries can be kept in the fridge for quite a long time – about 90 days. Don’t wash them till you’re about to use them for cooking. Just remove any stray bits of stalk and berries that have gone soft. Fresh cranberries are widely available from September to December, so you have plenty of time to enjoy them!
Organic cranberry shrubs need the white-glove treatment (well, not literally)
We really spoil our organic cranberries. It takes a lot of manpower to take care of them, because we don’t use any fertilizers or chemical pesticides, and they have to be weeded by hand. Organic bushes also produce fewer cranberries than conventional plants, but they’re bigger, softer and better quality. We believe that makes a big difference in terms of taste, health and the environment.
Fresh cranberries are tart and astringent
Cranberries definitely have a unique flavour. Try this experiment: bite down on a fresh cranberry and note how that tartness feels on your tongue, and the astringency (that sense of dryness in your mouth). This is due to the berry’s level of phenolic compounds. That’s why we prefer to eat them slightly sweetened.
Dried cranberries sweetened with apple juice last longer
Our dried cranberries sweetened with apple juice are a more natural alternative than berries sweetened with white sugar. Our process also keeps them softer for up to 12 months when they’re stored properly in a hermetically sealed container at room temperature.
If you prefer cranberries sweetened with white sugar, we suggest keeping them in the freezer so that the sugar won’t crystallize after 3 months.
Pure cranberry juice comes only from fruit
Yes indeed! We don’t add any sugar to our juice. We do suggest that you add 1 part of our cranberry juice to 3 parts of water or another unsweetened fruit juice (apple, white grape, orange, etc.) to enjoy the full taste. We believe it makes an excellent alternative to the traditional orange juice at your breakfast table!