[dropcap]A[/dropcap] lot of people pull out a can of cranberry sauce from the shelves at the grocery store when it's time to add it to a holiday meal like Thanksgiving. But have you ever wondered where, exactly, cranberries come from and how cranberry growers produce their delicious crop?
Cranberries don't grow on a tree like many other fruits. In fact, harvesting cranberries involves a whole lot of water and cranberry vines, and they're tended to all year long.
Where Do Cranberries Grow?
Cranberries are grown in many parts of the United States, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and even up in Quebec in Canada. They're also found in the Pacific Northwest region in places like Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.
In those areas, growers produce the fresh fruits in wetlands, generally in a body of water called a bog or a marsh. Cranberry vines grow best in acidic soils and, contrary to popular belief, are not technically grown underwater. Instead, the bogs are flooded in both the winter to protect developing buds growing on cranberry vines from cold temperatures and winter winds, and later right before it's time for harvesting cranberries.
How Are Cranberries Harvested?
Cranberry plants are harvested in one of two ways by cranberry farmers: they are either dry harvested or picked via wet harvesting. Wet harvesting involves flooding bogs to get fresh cranberries a day or two before harvesting and then picking the fruit from the top of the water after they've been knocked off of vines. In fact, cranberry plants actually have air pockets that cause them to float!
According to Ocean Spray -- easily one of the most well-known companies for cranberry products -- dry harvesting involves cranberry growers using a mechanical picker to harvest cranberries from cranberry beds. Apparently, those are usually the fresh cranberries you see in grocery stores.
The next time you drink some cranberry juice or partake in another cranberry product, remember all the work that goes into getting it from a bog to your kitchen table!