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.