Harvest of the Month: Cranberries

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When you think of crops that Massachusetts is known for, cranberries are probably one of the first to come to mind. Cranberries require specific conditions to grow — acidic soil, a constant supply of fresh water, and a growing season that goes from April to November. Massachusetts cranberries are unique, because they are harvested from glacier-formed bogs that naturally meet these conditions, rather than the manmade bogs used in other parts of the country.

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.

Cranberries are often overlooked in the kitchen because their tartness makes them so hard to eat on their own. But with some creativity (and a little sugar), they can be delicious. They’re also a great source of nutrition, packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, and anti-cancer properties.

This month, try using dried “craisins” in place of raisins on top of oatmeal, or in cookies or quick breads. Toss fresh or frozen cranberries in the blender with a banana, orange, and yogurt for a smoothie that’s both sweet and sour. Or you can pulse cranberries and an apple in the food processor, then sweeten to taste with maple syrup for a delicious cranberry relish to enjoy on yogurt or on its own.

Check out this month’s featured recipe, Cranberry Shrub.

Cranberry Shrub

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup sugar
¾ cup water
1 cup nice white or red wine vinegar

Bring cranberries, sugar, and water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have popped, softened, and the sugar is melted. Remove from heat and add vinegar. Refrigerate overnight.

Strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a clean container.

Use a tablespoon or two of shrub to flavor cocktails, or simply add to soda water for a healthy, zesty kick.

Keeps about two weeks. No need to refrigerate.

 

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