Is anyone growing cranberries? What are your thoughts? Are they worth growing, difficult to grow, what variety is best, etc.
I put in a Highbush Cranberry last year and I pretty much just plopped it in the ground and it has been growing really well. We got a handful of berries last year, but from the looks of the blossoms this year we will get a lot. It is a really pretty bush too. I think I got mine from Miller Nurseries.
I took some seed from store bought berries and planted them into pots, so far 5 have survived with 2 looking great, two looking good and 1 looking pretty sad. I don't think the Highbush Cranberry is related to the Cranberry; at least I don't think it is, I believe the Highbush takes normal soil and the Cranberry needs a acid soil of around PH 4.5 -5.5 once my plants get growing better perhaps I could give more info.
highbush cranberry is not a cranberry at all, it is a very different plant.
Where could I get some highbush cranberry plants? I'm in Oklahoma, I'm not sure they would do well here either, but what the hey!
Yes, highbush cranberry and bog cranberries are very different plants. However in terms of culinary interest they are comparable. Which one is determined by the land scape and the typical lawn garden would be suitable for the high bush cranberry. If one has a swamp condition then certainly go with the conditions.
Be careful when using common names. The highbush cranberry I know of is Viburnum trilobum which has nothing to do with cranberries (Vaccinium) either culinarily or otherwise. Berries are red and any similarity ends there. Texture, taste, shape, etc are all quite different.
Botanically speaking there is no question of being completely different plants. The reason why V. Trilobum or for that matter V Edule are commonly called high bush cranberries should be obvious. Many people report them as having a very similar taste.
Tastes certainly very from person to person however I first heard of them from someone in a position to make a judgment since bushes of a similar species can very and he has had a lot of them. Thus someone interested in a cranberry like fruit in a dry micro environment may like a high bush cranberry.Again there is a reason why its not called a high bush grape.
" The small fruits, about a half-inch long, begin to turn from green to red in late August. As soon as they do so, they are ready to eat, though they will still be hard and crunchy. At this stage, they taste almost exactly like true cranberries, except that they contain a single large, flat, oval seed, which is somewhat bitter if chewed. To make juice from these still-hard cranberries, freeze them and then thaw them. (This should make them soft and juicy.) Then crush them. I do this by placing about two gallons of the berries in a five-gallon bucket, adding about a quart of water, and crushing them with my "stomper" (the same six-foot-long, heavy, flat-ended stave of wood that I use for cracking acorns and fending off stray rhinos.) After thoroughly mashing the berries, I press them in a colander to separate the juicy pulp from the seeds and skins. I do not boil the whole fruit, for this seems to release some of the bitterness of the seeds into the product.
The highbush cranberry pulp can be used to make jam, cranberry sauce, or cranberry-applesauce. It can also be drunk as a thick, pulpy juice. Many people prefer to strain the pulp through a cheesecloth or jelly bag to separate the solids (which can still be used for jam or cranberry sauce) and achieve a "cleaner" looking final product. The strained juice can then be used to make a wonderful jelly. It can also be added to juice mixes, or diluted (and possibly sweetened, as most prefer) and drunk alone. It can even be drunk at full-strength, unadulterated, in little tiny sips - which is how I prefer it."
"Edible Qualities: The fruits/drupes can be eaten raw or cooked, and like cranberries, they are rich in vitamin C and so have a tart, acid taste (the taste is best after a frost and when picked slightly under-ripe). They are an excellent substitute for cranberries and are likewise used in preserves, jams, sauces, etc., which make delicious condiments for meat and game. The jam is said to have a very pleasant flavor."
Thanks for the good post on the topic, Solanacea.
I put in a dozen plants of true cranberries this spring, nice large ones from Johnny's. They're beginning to bloom now, should be interesting.
Regarding the viburnum cranberries. I picked some wild ones last fall, and they did make a very cranberry-like finished product. I have read/heard that the American species is much better than the European, which is much more bitter. I have noticed that fruit of the ones growing in the local park, which were planted by the parks department, and therefore probably V. opulus (European) are MUCH more bitter in flavor than the wild ones growing on the swampy banks of the local creek. I think the wild ones are V. trilobum.