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 really has a long history in North America and had an important place in everyday Indian life.
The Cranberry was utilized by the Indians to brighten up food, to treat wounds from poisoned arrows and as a dye for carpets and blankets. Pilgrim women learned about the Cranberry in the friendly Indians and they soon began to create their own methods of fixing cranberries for their dinner tables. (beverages ) Now at our Thanksgiving Dinner Tables Cranberries are served in different forms – Whole Berry Sauce, Jellied Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Orange Relish and occasionally within a salad.
Cranberries are also utilized in baked products – they make an superb fruit for Quick Breads and a good Sauce for Waffles and Pancakes.
Cranberries were called different names by Indians of different areas. Some of the names they were called are listed below:
Pakimintzen – New Jersey (symbol of Peace)
The modern day title”Cranberry” was a contraction of crane 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 nearly 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 today came from this simple observation made almost 200 years back.
Cranberries grow on peat soil that’s been covered with a 3 inch layer of sand. The vines, planted about six inches apart, slowly spread over the ground forming a thick green carpet. The vines are weeded in the spring, pruned in the fall, fertilized and re-sanded every three or four decades. Birds are needed to control the bees and insects pollinate the blossoms.
A good Cranberry is going to have a bounce to it. At the Ocean Spray plant, if a berry does not bounced it will be rejected. Today, these tart berries are used in numerous dishes in addition to Cranberry Sauce.