Cranberries grow on low, creeping shrubs or vines. They have slender, wiry stems that are not thickly woody and have small evergreen leaves. The flowers are dark pink, with very distinct reflexed petals, leaving the style and stamens fully exposed and pointing forward. They are pollinated by bees. The fruit is a berry that is larger than the leaves of the plant; it is initially light green, turning red when ripe. It is edible, but with an acidic taste that usually overwhelms its sweetness.
Cranberries are harvested in the fall when the fruit takes on its distinctive deep red color. Berries that receive sun turn a deep red when fully ripe, while those that do not fully mature are a pale pink or white color. This change in color usually occurs in September through the first part of November. To harvest cranberries, the beds are flooded with six to eight inches of water above the vines. A harvester is driven through the beds to remove the fruit from the vines. For the past 50 years, water reel type harvesters have been used. Harvested cranberries float in the water and can be corralled into a corner of the bed and conveyed or pumped from the bed. From the farm, cranberries are taken to receiving stations where they are cleaned, sorted, and stored prior to packaging or processing. While cranberries are harvested when they take on their deep red color, they can also be harvested beforehand when they are still white, which is how white cranberry juice is made.
Cranberries for fresh market are stored in shallow bins or boxes with perforated or slatted bottoms, which deter decay by allowing air to circulate.
- Which is a physical feature of cranberries?
- How do bees help the cranberries?
- What are the usual colors of a cranberry?
- When do cranberries become ready for harvest?
- How long have water reeled type harvesters been used ?
- What maintains the freshness of the cranberries even when they are put in boxes?