Friday, October 10, 2014

PTown's Cranberry Harvest

It takes a while to pick this many wild cranberries, but it's worth the effort.
I've talked to a lot of hikers and foragers this week, and from all accounts, wild cranberries seem to be abundant this year, and are ready to gather from the low-lying spots in the forests, and even in the very low spots in the dunes, where the water tends to pool up after the rainfall. These are the spots where cranberries seem grow the best, completely wild and natural, and they are ours for the taking. An afternoon spent strolling through the forests can lead you to a cache of cranberries to put in your muffins, jellies, chutneys and any number of recipes that can be enhanced with this tart, toothsome and delightful little berry.
In a commercial cranberry bog, things are a bit different from a wild bog. The amount of water in the bogs can be controlled, and at harvest time the bogs are flooded, with the berries floating to the surface. Machinery is used to agitate the water, and more berries break away from the vines and float to the top, where they are scooped up by more machines. Commercial cranberry bogs cover about 13,000 acres of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, producing over 2 million barrels of cranberries in the average autumn season. The more rain we get in the summertime, the bigger the cranberries, which tend to plump up in years with generous rainfall.
The Provincetown Council on Aging is planning a trip to Harwich on Tuesday, October 21st, at 9 AM, to tour a working cranberry bog. This 1 1/2 hour tour will teach us about the cranberry industry and the harvesting process, and includes a ride around the bog with a guide. A special price of $12.50 for the tour has been arranged for COA members, and the group will stop for lunch at the Jail House Tavern in Orleans, where meals start at around $10, before returning to Provincetown. Call the Council on Aging at 508 487-7080 to reserve your trip.
In the meantime, get out for a stroll in the Provincelands, take a bucket with you, and bring home some of these remarkable, tasty little fruits that are native to this beautiful land we live on.

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