Cranberries are an excellent fruit, packed with antioxidants and healing properties. Cranberries are also associated with one of the best holidays, Thanksgiving. If you have a cranberry bush, you most likely want to harvest your berries. When are cranberries in season, and how do you harvest them?
Cranberries are in season during the fall months, and they are primarily harvested in September and October. You can harvest cranberries in one of two ways: dry harvesting and wet harvesting. Harvested cranberries are often used to make sauce or juice. The fruit can also be used whole in dishes.
When Are Cranberries In Season?
Cranberry plants are a type of vine that produce runners where the fruits grow. In the early spring, these runners will begin to flower, and by late September, you can start harvesting your cranberries.
An average cranberry bush can deliver one to one and a half pounds of cranberries per year. Although some bushes can produce up to three pounds, they may not produce fruit every year.
To ensure your cranberry bush produces cranberries each year, thin out some of the lower runners in spring. This will help to ensure that you have fresh raspberries each fall, perfectly ready for Thanksgiving.
How Are Cranberries Harvested?
Cranberries are harvested in two ways: wet harvesting and dry harvesting. Both harvesting techniques have advantages and disadvantages, and they might not all be suitable for your circumstances.
What Is Dry Harvesting Of Cranberries?
When cranberries are dry harvested, a machine with large metal combs is used. These combs are used to detach the cranberries off the vines. They are then gathered into bags and taken to another location for packing.
Dry harvesting cranberries only collect about a third of the available fruit on the vines. However, the cranberries collected by dry harvesting are of higher quality and can be sold as whole, fresh fruit.
If you are harvesting your cranberries at home, you will most likely also use the dry harvesting technique. To harvest cranberries at home, you can use your hands to detach the cranberries from the vines. Be careful not to damage the berries.
What Is Wet Harvesting Of Cranberries?
Wet harvesting is the more popular technique used to harvest cranberries commercially. When cranberries are wet harvested, the bogs are flooded. Then a machine is used to stir the water, dislodging the cranberries from the vine. Because cranberries have air pockets inside them, they will float to the top and can be collected.
Wet harvesting ensures that almost all cranberries are harvested. For this reason, wet harvesting is a more popular technique on commercial cranberry farms. The cranberries harvested with wet harvesting are mainly used to make juice or sauce, as their quality is not as good as those harvested through dry harvesting.
If you want to harvest your cranberries at home, wet harvesting is most likely not the most practical method to do so. However, if you pick your cranberries by hand, you can still harvest most of the cranberries from your vines.
When Are Cranberries Ripe When Are They Overripe?
Cranberries are ripe when they are plump and dark or crimson red. However, suppose you want to use cranberries for making juice or sauce. In that case, you can harvest the cranberries before they are completely ripe, as they will be easier to handle.
If you intend to use your cranberries whole, wait until after the first frost to harvest them. Cranberries that have been exposed to frost will taste sweeter.
After harvesting your cranberries, you must check which berries are overripe and discard them. To test the ripeness of the cranberries, drop them onto a flat surface, such as a table. Fresh, ripe cranberries will bounce on a flat surface, while overripe berries will have less bounce.
Cranberries that have gone soft or mushy must be discarded as they are no longer fresh. If the cranberries start to mold or smell sour, you should also not eat them and rather throw them out.
Can You Eat Raw Cranberries?
Raw cranberries are high in antioxidants and full of health benefits, including:
- Cranberries are high in proanthocyanins, which help to cure urinary tract infections.
- Cranberries assist in lowering blood pressure, which can help to prevent heart disease.
- Cranberries also contain compounds that can help prevent certain cancers, such as stomach cancer.
Even though cranberries contain many health benefits, they are sour and bitter when eaten raw. Therefore, many people prefer to use cranberries to make a sauce that can be served with meat, such as poultry. Cranberry juice is also a popular cranberry product.
However, raw, fresh cranberries contain the most health benefits. They are safe to eat as well. If you want to eat your cranberries raw to get the most benefits, you must first clean them thoroughly.
To clean your cranberries, place them in a bowl filled with cold water to wash them. Then, remove any soft or damaged berries.
After that, you can slice your cranberries thinly to add them to salads or stir-fries. You can also juice your cranberries. By adding a little honey or sweetener, you can sweeten your juice and remove the sharp taste of the cranberries.
Can You Store Fresh Cranberries?
You can store fresh cranberries in a refrigerator for a couple of days. To keep your cranberries in the refrigerator, you must first wash them with clean water and throw out any overripe cranberries.
Then, put the cranberries in a plastic bag and place them in the refrigerator for up to five days. It is best to use fresh cranberries as soon as possible to avoid them going bad.
If you wish to store cranberries for a longer time, you can also place them in the freezer. First, clean the cranberries and remove all the stalks. Then, place the cranberries in a single layer on a baking tray and freeze them until solid.
After the cranberries are frozen, you can put them in a bag and store them in a freezer for up to one year. To use frozen cranberries, remove them from the freezer and thaw them at room temperature. Cranberries, once thawed, will have a mushy texture.
It is best to use frozen cranberries in baked goods or a sauce rather than raw. Take note that because of the tartness of cranberries, they are best left out of smoothies, unless you only use a few at a time.