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Something Beautiful About Harvesting Cranberries On Cape Cod

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Harvesting cranberries on Cape Cod is a site to be seen. The rhythm between farmer and bog, the colors and landscape. Take a moment to appreciate and enjoy this beautiful activity.


There is something about watching the farmers harvesting cranberries that puts me in a peaceful meditative state. Whether it’s the beautiful colors of the cranberries, the rushing water settling into the bogs, or the rhythmic nature of the farmers raking the cranberries. No matter the reason, I absolutely love watching this outdoor fall activity on beautiful Cape Cod.

Harvesting cranberries was foreign to me before I moved to Cape Cod. I knew that cranberries grow in bogs but beyond that, I barely gave it any thought. Cranberries were something I picked up in preparation for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, and then forgotten for the rest of the year.

Now that I live here on the Cape, and see the amount of effort it takes to grow cranberries, I am almost embarrassed at how little respect I gave this beautiful fruit. Cranberries are treasured here and contribute quite significantly to the economy.

When the season peaks you will see local cranberries in grocery stores and farmers markets, and we even have our own cranberry festival. You can also take tours of some of the cranberry farms in the area, to see how cranberries grow. Very cool!

Harvesting Cranberries

As I mentioned in this post, there are two different ways to harvest cranberries, wet or dry harvesting.

Wet Harvest

Over 90% of cranberries are harvested using the wet harvest method. These are the dried cranberries you find in juice and sauces, and these wet harvested cranberries are also found as an ingredient in processed foods.

A wet harvest means the farmers flood the bogs and then use a machine to beat down the cranberry vines to dislodge the cranberries. These machines are nicknamed the eggbeaters, which is exactly what they do, turning the water, catching the vines, and dislodging the cranberries, which then float to the top of the water.

The cranberries then get rounded up and pumped onto a truck, or lifted by a conveyor, and sent to a receiving station for cleaning and grading.

Dry Harvest

Grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and roadside stands use dry-harvested cranberries. In this method, the farmer stands behind and pushes a machine called a mechanical picker to comb the cranberries off of the vines.

The cranberries then get conveyed into burlap bags, or wooden boxes, and transferred to receiving stations, similar to the cranberries that are wet harvested.


Peaceful Care Partner Activity

Heading to the bogs and watching the farmers harvesting cranberries is a wonderful activity for anyone. But it can be a wonderful de-stressor activity for busy care partners who need a moment to get away. Peaceful and therapeutic I’d say.

There have been many times I’d go to the cranberry bogs on my own as a way to unwind. When the weather is nice and the air is clear and crisp, I really enjoy bundling up, spending time outdoors, and watching the farmer’s harvest.

But I also really enjoy going to the cranberry bogs with Doug, my guy who has Parkinson’s. Together we enjoy the scenery, fresh air, and walking along the perimeter of the bogs. Great exercise!

It is a wonderful way to get outside, breathe in some fresh air, and spend quality time together.

Doug knows far more than I do about the machinery and the technicalities of harvesting cranberries. He watches cranberry harvesting very differently than I do. Personally, I just enjoy the view. The beautiful bright colors of the bogs, crisp bright blue skies, the surrounding trees, and changing color of the leaves. Such a gorgeous sight to see!


Getting Creative In The Kitchen With Cranberries

Cranberry season runs roughly from mid-September to early November. During this time you will see cranberries sold up and down the Cape. In grocery stores, farmer’s markets, cranberry festivals, and even at the cranberry farms themselves.

Inevitably I pick up several bags of fresh cranberries to cook with and experiment in the kitchen. There are plenty of recipes to make with cranberries. Sweet dishes like muffins, scones, pancakes, and cookies, as well as more savory recipes like whole grain bowls, salads, relishes, and more.

Harvesting cranberries in the fall is the perfect time to get ready for the upcoming holiday season. If you don’t think you will be using your cranberries right away, like within a week or so, and you want them to be fresh for your Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday meal, then I recommend washing and drying your cranberries thoroughly, placing them in a freezer safe bag or container, and then putting your cranberries in the freezer. This will preserve their freshness until you are ready to use them.

Fun Facts About Harvesting Cranberries

Here are some interesting fun facts about cranberries.

  • Cranberries do not grow in water but rather on vines.
    • The cranberry bogs themselves get flooded throughout the year for a number of reasons.
      • In the wintertime, the bogs are flooded with water to protect the vines and buds from frost.
      • In the springtime, the bogs are sometimes flooded to manage insects and diseases.
      • And of course, in the fall the bogs are flooded for harvesting cranberries.
  • Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries, and Massachusetts is number two.
  • Cranberries are used in more than 1,000 different food and beverage products.
  • Cranberries bounce when they are ripe and are sometimes called bounce berries.
    • I know this to be true because when I was videotaping the cranberries getting conveyed into the trucks, I had to stand farther back because the cranberries kept bouncing right at me when I got too close.
  • Sailors and whalers would bring cranberries on board their ships to prevent the development of scurvy.

If you don’t live near a cranberry bog but still would like to see how they harvest cranberries, I made a short video of the farmers harvesting cranberries right near my home here on Cape Cod.

Take a moment to relax and enjoy this beautiful peaceful video.

And I highly recommend you watch harvesting cranberries if you do ever get the chance. Please take advantage of the opportunity because it is a beautiful and relaxing sight to see.

VIDEO: Harvesting Cranberries On Cape Cod

YouTube player

Care Partner Support – Important Note

I want to be sensitive to care partners who are not readily able to leave their homes because their loved one is high-risk and cannot be alone.

First, I am sorry you and your loved one are having to manage under such stressful conditions. Chronic disease affects not just the one who has the condition but the entire family and household as well, and it is not easy.

May I suggest, if you can take 5 minutes out of your day, to please take your phone, tablet, or computer to a quiet place and watch this video. It is beautiful and relaxing to watch.

You may not be at the cranberry bogs live but the scenery, colors, and music hopefully will help to put your mind at ease – if for only a few minutes.

FREE Care Partner Resources

Finally, I created a very detailed care partner resource page to help you quickly find organizations for support as a caregiver.

The resources contain all kinds of support for care partners, from general, financial, and legal support, to more specific care partner support for those who are taking care of loved ones with Alzheimer’s, dementia, cancer, and more. Just fill out the info below for access.

Parkinson’s and Us is a supportive community for ALL care partners, not just those dealing with Parkinson’s. We are in this together.

Supportive And Helpful Tools For Caregivers

  • Healthy Recipes – Discover healthy and delicious 100% plant-based food with recipes designed to be simple and fuss-free.
  • Joyful Living – Here you will find a wealth of helpful tips, empowering insights, and nurturing guidance for your caregiving journey.
  • Caregiver Resources – Helpful resources to support you on your caregiver journey.

Let’s be social

If you enjoyed this article OR if you’ve seen cranberries harvested, I would love to hear from you. Please comment below.

You can also follow me and my life on Cape Cod on my Instagram page @upsidelane.

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