Cranberries weren’t always ‘cranberries’?
For Eastern Indians, they were "sassamanesh.” Cape Cod Pequots and South Jersey Leni-Lenape tribes called them "ibimi," or bitter berry. But it was the early German and Dutch settlers who started calling it the "crane berry” because of the flower’s resemblance to the head and bill of a crane. And finally, that was the name that stuck.
There’s nothing like a cranberry.
Cranberries are one of the most unique fruits in the world. One of only three native fruits cultivated in North America, cranberries grow in the wild on long-running vines in sandy bogs and marshes. While they’re primarily harvested in the United States northeastern region, many cranberries are harvested right here in Canada by more than 100 growers located in parts of British Columbia, Quebec, and New Brunswick.
Discovering its versatility.
It was Native Americans who first took advantage of the cranberry’s many natural attributes. By mixing mashed cranberries with deer meat, they made a survival food called pemmicana. They also believed in the medicinal value of the cranberry, using the berry in poultices to draw poison from arrow wounds. And the rich red juice of the cranberry was used as a natural dye for rugs, blankets and clothing.
The harvest grows and changes.
But even with its many uses, cranberries weren’t farmed on a large scale until the 1800s. At first, growers picked the berries by hand. They then developed a more efficient dry harvesting technique, later revolutionizing the process with an idea called wet harvesting. By flooding the bog with water, the cranberry’s buoyancy allows it to float to the surface, where they are collected.