This is my favorite time of the year. It’s cranberry season. Over the past 7 years, I have been foraging wild cranberries. It has become a tradition for a few friends and me. Every year, I make wild cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. Wild cranberries grow all over the Northeast and Canada. They like to grow near lakes, bogs, swamps, and shores of cold lakes. September and October are when they are at their ripest stage.
Identifying Your Wild Cranberries
It took some time for me to find and identify the patches I now frequent every year. It took many months of hiking around different lakes to discover where wild cranberries grow. This year, the cranberries are the best I have ever seen since I have been foraging. They are large, abundant, and better than any store-bought ones.
Foraging for Wild Cranberries
Wild cranberries like to grow low to the ground, like a small vine. The berries are easy to identify. They are oval in shape, whitish-green when unripe and deep red when ripe. The nice thing about these cranberries is they are not treated with any pesticides. Just make sure not to over pick. Leave some for the animals and a stronger crop next year.
On The Lake
It was a great day to be out on the lake. It was nice and quiet, just me and nature—what a good way to spend the day foraging for wild cranberries. I will take this overwork any day! Foraging is a good way to get out and enjoy what nature has to offer. After I was done with the picking, I went home to clean and preserve my wild harvest.
It’s important to discard any bad or broken cranberries and clean any stems or debris. I placed the cranberries in a sink and washed them.
The FoodSaver V2244 vacuum sealing system comes in handy for preserving a variety of foods. This device is awesome for freezing produce for the long term. I use it for storing all my wild edibles and garden produce. This system will eliminate freezer burn. It will keep your food fresh up to 5x longer. Highly recommend.
Storing Your Wild Cranberries
I shake off any excess water with a strainer before preserving with my FoodSaver. Wild cranberries freeze very well. They also are great cooked or made into juice. I like to make wild cranberry compote and then jar them in a water bath canner. That is something I will share in a future post. It goes very well with oatmeal in the morning with wild blueberries and local honey.
Here is the book I use to identify wild cranberries:
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide is a must-have field guide. It has nearly 400 color photos and detailed information on more than 200 species of edible plants all across North America. With all the plants conveniently organized by season, enthusiasts will find it very simple to locate and identify their desired ingredients. Each entry includes images, plus facts on the plant’s habitat, physical properties, harvesting, preparation, and poisonous look-alikes.
Have you ever been foraging for wild cranberries?
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