Happy Tuesday! As I was eating pizza on Saturday night after taking a break from packing, I tuned into the food network where there was an episode on cranberry harvesting. I was very intrigued. I never really payed much attention to the harvesting of cranberries before, I just know that I love to eat them. Whether they are fresh, frozen or in cranberry juice - I am a huge fan.
So after watching the episode I learned a great deal on the process of harvesting cranberries.
Cranberries are harvested in the fall when the fruit takes on its distinctive deep red color. This is usually in late September or early October. 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.
Although most cranberries are wet-picked as described above, 5-10% of the US crop is still dry-picked. This entails higher labor costs and lower yield, but dry-picked berries are less bruised and can be sold as fresh fruit instead of having to be immediately frozen or processed. Originally performed with two-handed comb scoops, dry picking is today accomplished by motorized, walk-behind harvesters which must be small enough to traverse beds without damaging the vines.
White cranberry juice drinks are made from regular cranberries that have been harvested after the fruits are mature, but before they have attained their characteristic dark red color. Yields are lower on beds harvested early and the early flooding tends to damage vines, but not severely.
About 95% of cranberries are processed into products such as juice drinks, sauce, and sweetened dried cranberries. The remaining 5% is sold fresh to consumers. Cranberries destined for processing are usually frozen in bulk containers shortly after arriving at a receiving station. To allow air movement deterring decay, cranberries for fresh market are stored in shallow bins or boxes with perforated or slatted bottoms. Because harvest occurs in late autumn, cranberries for fresh market are frequently stored in thick walled barns without mechanical refrigeration. Temperatures are regulated by opening and closing vents in the barn as needed.
In honor of the cranberry, I thought I would make you my version of what I call the cranberry sizzler. This high impact drink contains frozen cranberries and gives off a lot of attitude. The tartness of the cranberries really wake you up.
Zesty Tip: When blending frozen fruit it is best to put liquid at the bottom of the blender if possible to avoid the fruit from stopping the blender and getting stuck. If you have a high powered blender you have nothing to worry about.
If you have not already entered the latest zesty blog giveaway - do so right this second! I cannot wait to reveal the winner on June 8th. Have a great Tuesday and see you tomorrow.
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