High Bush Cranberries and their relatives

The high-bush Cranberry grows to a height of about 4 meters and bears large red acid fruits in drooping terminal clusters. There are at least eight speices of related bushes across canada, some of the common names include squashberry, hobblebush, moosewood, nannyberry, sheepberry.

For me personally, I am after the high bush cranberry, and leave the other’s alone, I don’t find them to be worth the time but feel free to try them and make up your own mind on if they appeal to your taste buds.

If you are hunting for them, look to edges of woods, and around ditch’s or edging swampy area, they seem to like moist areas, they can be found thoughtout the southern part of canada from Newfoundland to central B.C. Their relative Squashberry is more northern, liking boreal forests, and grows from Alaska to Labrador.

The fruits are quite juicy but are very acid (think pucker your whole mouth), when first mature, they are hard, crisp and very sour, but after getting a good hard frost, they become soft and quite palatable even raw but will still be tart.. they are best when cooked as either a sauce or Jelly.. (farm gal note, they have way to big of a seed to be used straight in a sauce, but if you put it the though the food mill, you will lose the seed, but get more flesh then if you make juice.

High-Bush Cranberry Jelly.

  • 8 cups of washed and de-stemmed high bush cranberries
  • 1 cup of water

Place the berries and the water in a steel pot and simmer for about ten min. Drain threw a jelly bag or double layered cheesecloth.

Measure your juice and boil for at least five min, use six cups of sugar for each 4 cups of juice.

Stir till sugar dissolved, then bring in to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until jelly sets on the plate test, the recipe uses open kettle canning on these, so it says pour into hot sterilized glasses jars, store in a cool place, if you want to waterbath, I would say ten min would do the trick, This makes a tangy dark red jelly.

These berries were used by the native peaple of Canada, in B.C. they were so valued that berry patches was owned by certain families and were passed on from generation to generation. The berries were perserved in oil or water in tall cedarwood boxes and were eaten at feasts. The boxes of berries were also used as gifts or as trade goods. Among the Kwakiutl of Norhtern Vancouver Island a box of berries was considered equal in value to two pairs of blankets.

Moving over to Europe, the Norwegians and Swedes eat high bush cranberries cooked with flour and honey and also distill a spirit from them, They were also a favorite in Maine by the lumbermen of old, who used to eat them with molasses..

Do have a peek around your area and see if you can find these lovely berries and give them a try this on the thanksgiving or christmas table.

This is a homestead Barn Hop Post.

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14 Responses to High Bush Cranberries and their relatives

  1. CallieK says:

    I’ve never actually seen highbush cranberries so if you have photos of the berries and/or the bush, can you post some?
    I picked autumn olives yesterday which sound quite similar in taste and also have a large seed- I hope to make some jelly or jam with them. Maybe we should swap a jar!

    • Hi Callie

      Will take the camera with me when I next go out and will take pictures of the bushes, the berries an the leaves for you and get them up. Swapping a jar is always a good thing, can you post a photo of what autumn olives look like? or post a link on them?

  2. CallieK says:

    I checked out your link and I don’t think I recognize them but they sound tasty! Here’s a link to autumn olives http://www.psa-rising.com/eatingwell/wild-foods/autumnolive.htm
    I made jam with them last night and I’ll be doing a full post on them soon. There’s a jar with your name on it if you’d like!

  3. kateri says:

    When I was growing up, we would press them in the cider press (we had a large patch of the bushes) then mix the juice with apple juice. Very good that way. I’m trying to get a patch started on my own property.

  4. Cheryl says:

    I think we might have one of those on our property I have been asking people for awhile if they knew what they were. Haven’t tried any in case they were poisonous I have an old post with pictures of them I’d love it if you could take a look and tell me if it looks like the same thing. http://ontheoldpath.com/2009/10/07/lots-of-pictures-and-a-few-reflections/ Thanks

  5. Connie says:

    I have never seen high-bush cranberries…you are the second blog I’ve read lately that takes about this fruit…so cool!

  6. april says:

    I just discovered we have high bush cranberries on our property. The berries are so lovely! I am excited to try some jam. Do you every use them in floral arrangements? If so, do you need to dry them or something before you use them or stick in water or can i put them on a wreath? Just curious!

    • Hi April
      I have never dried them or tried them in floral arrangements, I have frozen them and then made jelly later, and that worked just fine, I have made the raw juice, froze it and then thawed out and made jelly or both hot or cold spiced drinks with it. I have never made Jam with them, it would be quite seedy if you did so, but if you ran it though the right screen, you could get more of the pulp, I would think you could use a little peeled apple flesh along with the juice to make a nice jam with them, I will give it try and see if I can come up with a recipe that I like, I think I would try it with rhubarb as well, that would be a good combo of flavors.

      I think they would dry well if you wanted to do so..

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