With 95 percent of America's cranberry crop going straight to processing — into juice, sauce, dried and sweetened snacks — it's not surprising that we've lost touch with the seasonality of these tart little berries.
Cranberries are one of America's only native fruits still farmed today. And including them in your Thanksgiving feast is in perfect step with the harvest season, which only stretches from late September to early November. If you're cracking open a tin of gelatinized cranberry sauce, though, you're not eating this year's berries. But if you're making your own sauce from fresh berries, then you certainly are. (See our super-easy recipe in the video!)
What Americans know about cranberries has come mainly from long-running advertising by Ocean Spray — the juggernaut of the cranberry industry. Their television commercials depict two "farmers" standing knee-deep in a sea of berries.
So that means cranberries grow underwater, right?
We took our "How Does it Grow?" cameras to get the story straight from the farm, as we do for all our episodes. This time, we traveled to southern New Jersey, America's third cranberry-growing state (after Wisconsin and Massachusetts, respectively), to visit Lee Brothers, a seventh-generation farm dating back to the mid-1800s.
We arrived armed to cut through the myths and unlock the secrets — that is, equipped with underwater cameras and flying drones, to share a view of cranberry harvesting that has never been seen before.
What we learned we packed into the short video above. As The Huffington Post recently wrote, "Five minutes sounds like a lot of time to devote to cranberries, but we promise this video is worth every second of your time because it... is... beautiful."
To watch more How Does it Grow? videos, go to howgrow.org.