10 Things to Know About Cranberries
A little red berry with a firmly established reputation, the cranberry plays an important role in the culinary culture of Quebec. Today, Fruit d'Or is one of the main cranberry exporters and the world’s leading producer of organic cranberries.
Recognized by their iconic colour and tart taste, these little berries offer a multitude of benefits and secrets to be discovered. To better understand what cranberries are, here are 10 things to know about this berry.
The cranberry goes by many names, including the great North American red lingonberry. Under this name, it indicates its belonging to the lingonberry family, or Vaccinium, of which the blueberry is also a part. Both plant species are small shrubs that thrive in similar conditions: damp, acidic soils in cold climates. Bearing leaves and flowers in the summer, they both produce fruit of different sizes and colours.
It takes time for the cranberry plant to produce its first berries, particularly in organic cranberry production, where the natural growth rate of the fruit is respected. It is therefore necessary to show patience and perseverance, because this is a long and meticulous cultivation process.
Around the world, the cranberry goes by many names, which all refer to the same fruit! In particular, it is known as:
- Red lingonberry
- Atoca (in Quebec)
- Crane berry
- Or, of course, cranberry
Its first name comes from the First Nations, who called it atoca. At that time, cranberry was picked in the wild and consumed for its medicinal properties. This name has remained in the common parlance in Quebec. When the first Europeans arrived, it then took on the name crane berry, in reference to the shape of its flowers.
Finally, the English name cranberry has taken its place in everyday language, of which the French translation is canneberge!
Indeed, it grows instead in soil that is similar to sand! This common misconception comes from the well-known images of flooded fields. This technique is used by cranberry producers at harvest time to facilitate picking. Cranberries grow well in the ground, and they thrive in acidic soils that actually need very little water.
After the pollination period, the cranberry flower gradually turns into a berry. When the fruit starts to form, however, it is not red, but white. The cranberry crop is considered ripe when it takes on its ruby red tones. It takes time for it to form its pigments.
If you pick the fruit when it is still white, you will see that its taste is generally milder.
Indeed, the cranberry has the unique characteristic of being lighter than water. Partially made up of air, it therefore naturally floats in water. This is why producers use the technique of submerging the cranberry fields at the time of harvest.
Thanks to this method, they can harvest and gather the fresh fruit more quickly to send it to the sorting centres. Once the fields are submerged, a thresher stirs up the water, which loosens the fruit when ripe. It then simply rises to the surface of the water and will be transported to its next destination.
This late autumn fruit is available from September to January. Fresh cranberries then have the advantage of lasting up to three months in the fridge. To preserve their taste and freshness, they should be stored in an airtight bag. It is also recommended to wash them only when it is time to prepare them.
You can also freeze the berries and consume them over the following 3 years.
Cranberries have the unique feature of being both acidic and astringent. This unusual combination is due to its composition, which is particularly rich in phenols.
It is usually prepared with other sweet components to soften its taste. But it can be enjoyed in its natural state, to add a tangy touch to a wide variety of dishes! It goes perfectly with savoury dishes such as salads and meat, or even in rice.
In addition to its culinary versatility, the cranberry is appreciated for its many properties. Indeed, it is valued for its source of fibre and vitamin C. It also gives 350 mg of polyphenols per serving of 100 g.
Throughout the year, cranberry cultivation requires rigorous water management, particularly in organic farming, where flooding the fields helps protect the plants from insect pests at certain times.
To preserve this precious resource and develop sustainable methods, cranberry growers use water from nearby lakes that is piped to the crop of cranberries. The water is irrigated there to adjust the water level or empty the fields. We thereby ensure a closed-circuit production, which preserves this essential resource!
A versatile berry enjoyed in all its forms
A pioneer in organic berry production and processing in Quebec, Fruit d’Or is constantly improving its techniques to offer you high-quality fruit. Enjoy our fresh, juiced or dried cranberries to take advantage of their multiple uses and benefits. Explore our line of organic products to discover our cranberry products in all their forms.
It’s the simple everyday things that make our berries so tender, tasty, healthy and give them the perfect texture. Each parcel of land we farm with care and respect. Each weed we pull by hand. Each extra day we wait to ensure crops are harvested at peak ripeness. Each minute saved between field and freezer. Each berry perfectly preserved. Each unwanted substance detected and eliminated. And each delicious bite our customers enjoy.