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 its cranberries at Cronig’s.

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

My favorite way to enjoy cranberries is to sprinkle dried “craisins” on top of oatmeal, or in a smoothie, for a tart, refreshing taste. You can also incorporate cranberries into your meals this month by crushing them into juice or seltzer, blending them with apple and a little sugar for a quick cranberry relish, or using them in place of raisins in cookie, muffin, and quick bread recipes. You can also check out this month’s featured recipe, Cranberry Shrub. 

Cranberry Shrub 

Recipe by Austin Racine and Maura Martin of Mo’s Lunch 

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 and 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.