This week’s Haliburton County Farmers’ Market focuses on the wonderful qualities, characteristics and taste of the mighty cranberry.
The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that the early New England colonists may have coined the word cranberry from the German “kranebere” – literally, “crane berry.” Some say this is because the flower was considered to like a crane, while others think it’s because cranes were seen to feed on the plant.
The first known use of the word “cranberries” in English occurred in a letter written by the missionary John Eliot in 1647. (Source: Cranberry Harvest: A History of Cranberry Growing in Massachusetts. Joseph D. Thomas, ed. New Bedford, Mass.: Spinner Publications, 1990.)
The cranberry is a Native American wetland fruit which grows on trailing vines like a strawberry. The vines thrive on the special combination of soils and water properties found in wetlands. Wetlands are nature’s sponges; they store and purify water and help to maintain the water table. Cranberries grow in beds layered with sand, peat and gravel. These beds are commonly known as bogs or marshes and were originally formed as a result of glacial deposits.
Cranberries, for the most part, are grown through the northern part of the United States. The major production areas are New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec. Other regions grow cranberries as well, to varying extent, and these include Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, as well as the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario.