Introduction

Ontario has only three commercial plantings or bogs: the Johnston Cranberry Marsh near Bala, Iroquois Cranberry Growers on the Wahta Mohawk Territory, south of MacTier and Upper Canada Cranberries, at the south end of Ottawa.

Varieties

Wahta Mohawk Territory bog -Stevens, Pilgrims, 35's and Ben Lear; Bala bog - Searles and Pilgrims.

Nutrition

Cranberries are a source of Vitamin C. One cup (250 mL) contains 46 calories.

History

Native to North America, cranberries were eaten raw by aboriginal peoples before the Europeans arrived. The natives also boiled them, sweetened with maple syrup, and added them to pemmican, the dried food made of meat and berries.

Cranberries were the first fruit of the New World to be available commercially in Europe, beginning in the 1700's when "Cape Cod bell cranberries" were sold in London, England.

The fruit was first grown commercially in Canada on the East coast and in Newfoundland. Later, large plantings were started in British Columbia.

Buying and storing

Look for firm, dry berries with good clear colour (this can range from light pink to deep, bright crimson, depending on variety). Avoid any that have been crushed or have mildew.

You can keep them for several weeks in the refrigerator in the original plastic bag. Before using, rinse and remove any remaining stems or leaves or freeze.

Preparing and cooking

Cranberries are traditionally cooked to make a jelly, sauce or relish to accompany roast turkey. It can also be candied in sugar syrup for a garnish with roast turkey, chicken or duck.

You can bake it as a crisp or tart. In the Maritimes, it's combined with raisins in pies. The juice is also sometimes used as a base for sherbets or to flavour meat sauces.

Freezing

Stem. Pack without sugar or syrup. Place on tray and freeze until firm. Pack in freezer bag.