This October, we celebrate the cranberry: one of only three fruits native to North America in commercial cultivation. There are reports of people growing 150-year-old cranberry plants on perennial evergreen vines in acidic bogs year in and year out. Cranberries have a long history on our Island, one that we are looking forward to exploring in the classroom with students.
New this year to our Harvest of the Month program, we will feature a local grower or producer for each crop of the year. This month, we feature Vineyard Open Land Foundation (VOLF). VOLF is hard at work harvesting cranberries from the bog off Lambert’s Cove Road, which they have been restoring in recent years. VOLF grows Early Blacks, a heritage variety of cranberry. They are available for sale from VOLF, at Morning GloryFarm, Cronig’s Market, Tisbury Farm Market, and Alley’s General Store.
Experiment with ways to enjoy fresh cranberries: crush them and add to seltzer, add in the last few minutes of cooking oatmeal, make a savory cranberry/jalapeno salsa, or bake them with squash. Fresh cranberries are really only available in October and November, but the good news is that you can just toss a full plastic bag into the freezer to use whenever you crave that tart and refreshing taste.
Try this recipe for roasted cranberries with thyme. It’s delicious stirred into rice with toasted pecans, piled on top of roasted squash, or as a side dish with roasted meats.
Roasted Cranberries with Thyme
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbs. honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss all ingredients together and stir until well combined.
Roast on a baking sheet for about 15 to 20 minutes until soft and slightly caramelized. (Recipe adapted from Bon Apetit).
We would love to hear any cranberry stories you have as we begin to build our curriculum around this fascinating crop. Find us on Facebook at Island Grown Schools or visit our website islandgrownschools.org.