As apple pickers in the Okanagan finish picking the last of those crisp, bright tree fruits, so too are cranberry growers in the Fraser Valley using a very-distinctive way of harvesting the much-tinier orbs of red.
Because they grow on a trailing vine that hugs the ground, picking cranberries is a job for snakes who also are comfortable hugging the ground.
However, with the help of chambers of air inside, cranberries float, so most of those tart little berries are harvested by flooding the field, which has been surrounded by dykes for that purpose.
The ripe cranberries are then gently beaten off their vines to float in a sea of bright red until gathered up by booms, loaded onto a conveyor belt and into a bin for the trip to be sorted and processed.
It’s a unique and exciting harvest that is similar to that of apples only in that both result in packinghouses and containers full of bright, red fruit—and they’re both being harvested right now.
Apples are sweet in flavour, so the addition of a tart berry like the blueberry really ramps up the flavour a notch, while cranberries are naturally very tart, so they benefit from the addition of sugar to make them palatable.
All are full of beneficial antioxidants as well as various vitamins, minerals and fibre. They’re very good for you, so include some in your diet every day.
For more recipes full of healthy fruits, pick up a copy of my book, Jude’s Kitchen wherever books are sold.
Apple/Blueberry Salsa for Meats
This adds a new flavour dimension to a dinner of pork, ham, chicken, turkey or game meats, and is very attractive served alongside.
1/4 c. (60 ml) onion
1 tbsp. (15 ml) butter
1 tsp. (5 ml) cornstarch
1 tsp. (5 ml) sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
2/3 c. (150 ml) water
1 c. (250 ml) blueberries
1 tsp. (5 ml) lemon juice
Peel, core and thinly slice apples and thinly slice onion.
Melt butter over medium heat in a heavy frypan and saute apples and onion for just a few minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Stir in the water.
Add that mixture, along with half of the blueberries (frozen or fresh), to the frypan with the apples and onions, gently stirring until the mixture is thickened and the sauce is beginning to colour, just a few minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and the remaining blueberries.
Cranberry Grain Muffins
These sugar-topped beauties with tart, antioxidant-packed bites of red make terrific snacks or breakfast gems. It wouldn’t have such a delightful punch of flavour, but you could probably substitute the sweetened, dried cranberries, or Craisins in these, but delete the half cup of fine sugar and don’t bother to chop them.
2 c. (500 ml) fresh cranberries
1/2 c. (125 ml) fine sugar
1/4 c. (60 ml) brown sugar
1/4 c. (60 ml) butter
1 c. (250 ml) flour
1/2 c. (125 ml) whole wheat flour
1/4 c. (60 ml) oat bran
1/4 c. (60 ml) cornmeal
2 tsp. (10 ml) baking powder
1 tsp. (5 ml) cinnamon
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt
1/2 c. (125 ml) milk
1 tbsp. (15 ml) butter
1 tbsp. (15 ml) flour
1 tbsp. (15 ml) brown sugar
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) nutmeg
Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
You may use frozen instead of fresh cranberries.
Use a food chopper to cut up the berries very coarsely, then add fine sugar (icing sugar works) and mix again.
Cream brown sugar and butter, then add an egg and mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add, alternately, with the milk, to the creamed mixture. Do not overmix.
Add in the cranberries and divide the batter amongst a dozen greased muffin cups.
Moosh the topping ingredients together with a spatula and divide it up amongst the muffins, so each has a little bit of sugary topping.
Bake for about 25 minutes.