High bush cranberries are looking pretty tempting

calliope(6)August 18, 2008

I have this huge, huge bush of them and this year the fruits are heavy and beautiful. I have plenty of other fruit I cultivate and use, but am considering making some jelly out of this viburnum. I have NO CLUE when the best stage is for harvesting, or even if this is tasty. Anybody else done it?

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Crans are ripe when they obviously turn red. You may have some that have a white tinge too. In Z6 I think they are usually ripe about mid September. I have not seen high bush, but tried to grow 'bogless' ones a few years ago, with no success. They do require acidic soil.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 12:55PM
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calliope(6)

The highbush cranberry is just colloquial name for a type of viburnum, and I have never tried to harvest them before. But, they're supposed to taste just like true cranberries. I suspected that they weren't quite ripe, but boy they look so plump and juicy and I was afraid if I waited too long, they'd get tired and leathery. Birds are supposed to love them, that's why I planted gobs of various viburnums, but they hold off until late winter when the pickins gets slim to eat them.

Thank you for your help. If I do make some, I'll let everyone know how I liked it, and we can all start eating our landscaping. LOL.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 11:09AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Toss a light weight plastic fabric over the bushes. That may help to reduce birds feedings. Lately, birds are making meals out of my plums, and they go all way down to the seeds on one side.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 6:07PM
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foodie_shellie

I was raised in Alaska on Highbush cranberries. You harvest right after the first frost. The frost gives them the edge that they need.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 10:52AM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)

Hey, calliope, did you pick your berries and make something?

It's funny this thread popped back up now because I just tasted highbush cranberry jelly for the first time.

At Canadian Thanksgiving two weekends ago, one of my French Canadian cousins, a grandmother who still keeps house in the fishing village on the Gaspe peninsula where she grew up, brought some red jelly she said she'd made from wild berries picked near her home. She knew only the French name for them "pembina," and we had the darnedest time figuring out what they were in English. It took Google, the Quebec government terminology website, and several bilingual family members to finally deduce they were viburnum/highbush cranberries.

Nice jelly---gorgeous colour. My cousin says she uses less sugar than usual, and has to cook it longer to get it to set up.

Zabby

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 7:22PM
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calliope(6)

No, I didn't get a round tuit on the berries. They may still be out there and edible. You know how harvest season gets, when the frosts approach, you have stuff to bring in and put up all at the same time. I was drowning in apples this year. The good thing is it kept the deer pretty much out of my vegetable garden for a month or two. LOL.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 11:10PM
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denninmi(8a)

Calliope, if the berries are still on the bush (and they probably are), you've still got plenty of time. They are only now really beginning to approach their peak of quality and ripeness -- best time to harvest, IMO, is really early November, after a couple of good, hard frosts/freezes. They need to "blet" like an astringent cultivar of persimmon or a medlar in order to be good -- this breaks down some of the astringent tannins in the berries.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 7:03AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Next comes the big 'comb' to get the berries plucked off the plants. I tried growing the type that is supposed to be 'bog-less' and they were low to the ground growers. They lasted one season and never showed up again. I got maybe 6-7 crans from them, hardly enough to enjoy.
Another late fall type vegetable is most of the cabbage family. Brussles sprouts are really tasty after the plants endure a frost or two.
Here, we have not had a frost yet, as my single tomato plant (dropped seed) is still alive with a couple of green toms on it. Looks like our weather will be getting a bit warmer too, at least a few days.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 5:12PM
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calliope(6)

Well, dagummit, I might just go sample a few of them. I planted three small bushes together over twenty years ago, and the growth is so huge now, you could lose a Volkswagon in it.

I have so many fruit and nuts planted, that I just haven't felt the need yet to eat ornamental berries, but hey, that's just an arbitrary assignment, isn't it? I'm really dreadfully curious.

I do genealogy research too, and I found out one of my French lines were indeed from Canada before they migrated to the United States. They lived in Nova Scotia, however.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 8:25PM
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mxbarbie(pnw BC 5)

I make tons of Highbush Cranberry jelly every year, I sell it at the local farmer's market.
It is a bit tricky to get it to set, you can email me for the recipe I've tweaked it so it's pretty reliable. (and it's been lab tested for ph so it's safe to sell at market)
The berries freeze very well and you can make the jelly from frozen berries whenever you have time (like in January when you've run out of apples!)

    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 2:48AM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

When I lived in Alaska, I bought a berry book to figure out what was growing in my yard. When I tasted what (I thought) were highbush cranberries, well, let's just say I didn't do it again... The berries were red, and looked tasty. It was the same time of year my currants were ripe. It's possible I tasted the wrong plant, but it was about like the taste of stomach acid... Yuck.

I hope you have a much better experience!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 3:44AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Fresh crans are quite sour! They are naturally high in acid as well as natural pectin.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 11:45AM
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denninmi(8a)

Greenbean08 -- the highbush cranberry (Viburnum, not Vaccinium, which is the true bog cranberr) does have a strange flavor when NOT "bletted" or mellowed by the frost. I too would describe it as an "enzyme" or "vomit" type taste, but this goes away with the frost to a large extent, and the rest of it disappears when cooked. The resulting jam/jelly/sauce is pretty similar to regular cranberry, not exactly the same flavor, IMO, but fruity and very nice. Color is beautiful.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 12:00PM
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ediej1209(5 N Central OH)

HMMM... We've a bare spot out in the yard that I've been trying to decide what to plant. Think I'll have to get one of those viburnums! I've seen them in several catalogs. I love the taste of cranberries. How big would the bush have to get before you start getting harvestable berries?

    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 12:43PM
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mike_in_paradise(6U 5A Cn Jun9Sep29)

I harvest mine after the first frost. This year they took longer to ripen and even after the frost some of them were still a bit firm.

They have a very pretty seed and make great jam. There several different varieties of these. Mine are very sweet but my Mom's are more sour.

Partridge in a pear opps cranberry tree.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 10:57AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Crans like a lot of water at the roots. Just like blueberries, they also like acidic soil. When they are harvested on the cape, they flood the areas where the bushes are and then use rakes and big combs to pick up the crans that tend to float.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 11:46AM
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calliope(6)

Viburnums are a lot less picky. edie.......they are native to Ohio, so do swimmingly here and are used very extensively in landscaping because they're so easily grown. They get a good size, and rather quickly, so the wait would not be too long.

OK, what if I'm not remembering properly, and these are a different species of viburnum, the berries should still be edible, no? I did go taste the fruit yesterday. It's been bletted, and is softening well. Boy, talk about puckering up! Man is it tart, but not with an unpleasant taste. If you've ever picked a pie cherry and tasted it before it was sweetened and cooked, it's much the same experience, but less tart. It took me a few minutes to get my face back to normal.

I can see where the jellies would be excellent on a hot, buttered crumpet.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 4:42PM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

Well, I guess maybe I should have tried again, but after that first taste, I wasn't planning to ever eat that again! Unfortunately, I didn't have anyone right there to fill me in on that tidbit of info!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 12:01AM
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mxbarbie(pnw BC 5)

These are not the type of cranberries you could flood or rake. although, most of the wild ones I pick grow on the shores of lakes. The berries grow in clusters and are about the size of a large pea. They have a single, large flat seed inside.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 12:30AM
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mike_in_paradise(6U 5A Cn Jun9Sep29)

Read the link below as it will explain the differences and why some people love them and others find them inedible.

Mine actually are very edible as is. They are slightly sour but not overly so.
Here is a close up of mine.

They might be the squash berry version mentioned in the link

Anyways if you read the link it explains the different varieties.

Here is a link that might be useful: Highbush Cranberry A Loser In the Name Game

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 9:34AM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)

Wow, thanks for that link, Mike! No wonder we had such a hard time straightening it out; even without the language barrier, and even with botanists' degrees, it sounds like people have trouble.

I've had this kind of problem with translating food names in the past. My French is pretty good, but was acquired at school through reading Literature and polished in a year in France at age 23, living in a garret room with minimal kitchen and eating baguette & cheese and drinking red wine. So while I can easily converse about romanticism and art history, I often discover significant holes in my vocabulary when it comes to some pretty basic things, such as household items (dishtowel? floor mat?), animals that don't appear in the Fables of Lafontaine (my young Quebecois nieces and nephews mocked me for not knowing how to say "moth") and words for foods--ingredient foods, things you wouldn't encounter in a Paris restaurant!

Will be interested to hear what you have, calliope, if you ever figure it out. I hear you about the getting caught up. Seems like by the time I recover from the tomato deluge (the only thing I grow myself in serious quantity), I am scrambling to get apples & pears put up while they're available, leaving me little energy to remember even to buy and freeze cranberries!

Zabby, who should probably remember that overabundance is a BLESSING, not a problem, really...

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 10:59AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The crans are just now getting to market, so you do have a while longer. I froze several bags of them so far.

My visit to Paris many years ago, was not a very good experience. The hotel I was in had a kitchen fire the week before, and the whole place smelled bad, not to mention not offering any foods. I went a few doors down to a fast food resturant and asked if I was 'too late' for breakfast. Forgetting any language barrier. They asked me if I wanted to use the 'toilet'.. Oh well, at least I ate food for that 5 day stay, but must admit that the 'fancy hamburger' I had, was not tasting like beef. The juices in it looked a bit more watery red color, maybe it was 'horse meat'??

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 11:34AM
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