October Harvest of the Month: Cranberries

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—Wikimedia Commons

This month we celebrate the cranberry- one of only three fruits native to North America in commercial cultivation.  Cranberries have specific growing conditions- acidic soil, a constant supply of fresh water, and a growing season that goes from April to November. Cape Cod cranberries are unique, because they are harvested from glacier-formed bogs that naturally meet these conditions, rather than the man-made bogs used in other parts of the country. Cranberry plants in these bogs can survive and produce fruit indefinitely- some are over 150 years old!

On Martha’s Vineyard, we’re lucky to have one of the few certified organic commercial cranberry bogs in the country, the bog at the Vineyard Open Lands Foundation. You can find their cranberries for sale direct from the VOLF as well as at Cronig’s and Morning Glory Farm. When shopping for cranberries, try to buy Massachusetts-grown. Look for firm, smooth berries that are deep red in color.

This month in the schools, we’re celebrating cranberries by tasting delicious cranberry apple crumble at lunch. We’ll also learn about how to bounce a cranberry to see if it’s ripe, and break them open to explore what it is that makes them float in water (each cranberry has a tiny air pocket inside).

My favorite way to enjoy cranberries is to sprinkle dried craisins on top of oatmeal or use them in place of raisins in cookie, muffin, and quick bread recipes. They’re also delicious in a smoothie, crushed into juice or seltzer, or chopped up with apples and a little sweetener for a quick cranberry relish. You can also try this month’s featured recipe — Cranberry Apple Crumble.

Cranberry Apple Crumble

 Ingredients:

Fruit Base

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
Zest of one orange
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup maple syrup

Oat Crumble

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup oat flour (you can make this yourself by blending oats in a blender)
1/2 cup almond meal (optional)
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 tsp salt

Grease a 9X13-inch baking dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the fruit base ingredients in a large sauce pan and cook over medium heat until apples have softened and cranberries have broken down, about 10 minutes. Spread base mixture in the prepared baking dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl mix the oats, flour, almond meal, cinnamon, and salt until combined. Add the coconut oil and maple syrup and mix until combined and crumbly.

Spread the crumble mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake for 30 minutes or until crumble begins to brown.

Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

Recipe by Gabrielle Chronister