Delicious, Nutritious and oh so… SWEET!

Can you guess which delicious fruit this is?

photo-by-keith-weller-public-domain-via-wikimedia-commons
American cranberry, Photo by Keith Weller [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means we’re about to start thinking about this little red berry. It will, we’re all betting, be the only certified super food on your plate come Thanksgiving dinner time (unless your family does kale or something). Native to North America and was first used as a food by Native Americans. It was also used as an effective dyeing agent, so don’t spill any on your shirt. We have two species , large and small (Vaccinium macrocarpon and Vaccinium oxycoccus) which are found naturally in peat bogs and other wetlands across the northern half of North America, including all of New York state. As the fruit became more popular, farms were developed to meet the demand. This delicious fruit was planted in areas that could be flooded for part of the season; the berries are harvested each fall. Today, Wisconsin and Massachusetts are the two largest producing states. Sailors used them as scurvy prevention in the 19th century as the berries are rich in vitamin C. Now we know that it can lower your risk for some common cancers (including mouth and lung cancers). Come Thanksgiving; make sure you load up on it. But don’t stress too much, they also stay fresh in the refrigerator longer than most other fruits (up to 2 months!) and you can also pop a bag in the freezer for use later.

Follow these links for more fun facts about this all-American fruit!

https://ag.umass.edu/cranberry/about/cranberry

http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=VAMA

Posted by Greta Alvarado, State Parks

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