History of cranberries

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The Cranberry has long been a part of our Thanksgiving Dinners but how much do you know about how the Cranberry became part of our culture. The Cranberry actually has a long history in North America and had an important place in everyday Indian life.

The Cranberry was used by the Indians to brighten up food, to deal with wounds from poisoned arrows and as a dye for blankets and rugs. Pilgrim women learned about the Cranberry from the friendly Indians and they soon began to create their own methods of fixing cranberries for their dinner tables. They made cranberry sauces, bubbling tarts and nogs. (drinks) Today at our Thanksgiving Dinner Tables Cranberries are served in different forms – Whole Berry Sauce, Jellied Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Orange Relish and occasionally as part of a salad.

Cranberries are also utilized in baked products – they create an excellent fruit for Quick Breads and a fantastic Sauce for Waffles and Pancakes.

Cranberries were called different names by Indians of different locations. A Few of the names they were called are listed below:

Sassamanesh – Eastern (New England States) Indians

Pakimintzen – New Jersey (symbol of Peace)

(Cranberry Eater)

The modern day title”Cranberry” was a contraction of berry berry, an early name given to the berries because their pale pink blossoms resembled the head of a crane and Sandhill Cranes were seen in the lowlands eating the berries.

Cultivation of Cranberries started in Massachusetts almost 200 years after the landing of the Pilgrims. In 1816 Henry Hall of Dennis, Cape Cod, noticed that cranberries appeared to grow large and juicier where sand from the dunes blew over the vines. Cultivation now came from this simple observation made almost 200 years back.

Cranberries grow on peat soil that has been covered with a three inch layer of sand. The vines, planted about six inches apart, gradually spread over the ground forming a thick green carpet. The vines are weeded from the spring, pruned in the fall, fertilized and re-sanded every three or four years. Birds are needed to control the bees and insects pollinate the blossoms.

A good Cranberry will have a bounce to it. In the Ocean Spray plant, if a berry doesn’t bounced it’ll be rejected. Today, these sour berries are used in numerous dishes in addition to Cranberry Sauce.

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