The Moore American

Local News

November 21, 2012

Cranberries rich in history, healthy nutrients

MOORE — There is a certain brand of juice that has some really hilarious commercials.

Pondering cranberries and how we seasonally devour them, my own curiosities yielded some information I was completely unaware of.

We Oklahomans are far removed from the growing regions for cranberries. So I thought you might enjoy the history lesson as I did.

And with the holidays upon us, cranberries are on the brain.

How many types of berries can you name?

Of all fruits, only three — the blueberry, the Concord grape and the cranberry — can trace their roots to North American soil.

The cranberry has helped to sustain Americans for hundreds of years. Native Americans used cranberries in a variety of foods. The most popular was pemmican — a high protein combination of meat, berries and fat.

Cranberries also were used by Native Americans as medicines to treat arrow wounds and as a dye for rugs and blankets.

Cultivation of the tart berry began around 1810, shortly after Capt. Henry Hall of Dennis, Mass., noticed that the wild cranberries in his bogs grew better when sand blew over them. Hall began transplanting his cranberry vines, fencing them in and spreading sand over them.

Cranberries, or craneberries as the pilgrims called them, can only grow and survive under a very special combination of factors. They require an acid peat soil, an adequate fresh water supply, sand, and a growing season that stretches from April to November.

Contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow in water. Water is used to flood the plants when it is time to harvest. The hollow berries float to the top and are easily corralled. Cranberries actually grow on vines in impermeable beds where the soil profile consists of sand, peat, gravel, and clay, in that order. These beds, commonly known as ‘bogs,’ were originally made by glacial deposits.

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