Here are some fun facts about cranberries, an American native and a favorite seasonal ingredient in traditional holiday recipes.
- By November, nearly all of the cranberry crop has been harvested. Millions and millions of the little hard, tart ruby berries grown in the bogs of Cape Cod (Massachusetts), New Jersey, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, and the Maritime Provinces of Canada have been bagged fresh or earmarked for juice or canned sauce.
- The cranberry is a genuine Native American, Vaccinium macrocarpon, a member of the heath family and a relative of the blueberry and huckleberry.
- The Pequot Indians of Cape Cod called the berry ibimi, meaning bitter berry, and combined crushed cranberries with dried venison and fat to make pemmican.
- The Pilgrims and those who followed appreciated the wild berries but did not start to cultivate them until 1816, when a bog was planted and tended in Dennis on Cape Cod. By then, American and Canadian sailors on long voyages knew they could eat cranberries to protect themselves from scurvy—making them a cranberry counterpart to British “limeys.”