Hey, you know what we did today? We went to the Makepeace Farms Cranberry Harvest Festival. And you know what else? It was pretty darn cool. I don’t know why I was surprised by how many people were there or by how much there was to see and do, because on the South Coast of Massachusetts cranberries are a really big deal. Like really, really big. Like huge.
I drive by tons of cranberry bogs on my way to work. Mostly they just look like scrubby fields full of dried up weeds and sandy dirt, but once a year they come alive in glorious bursts of reds and pinks. When the fields are flooded and the berries rise to the surface and they start to get corralled for harvesting- well, the colors are so vibrant, so striking, so breathtakingly beautiful that you might perhaps be so impressed by the sight that you are tempted to pull over and take a few compelling photos (hey, Instagram opp!) After all, it’s not something you see every day. But, 1) you feel silly doing that and 2) you are running late because you had another hectic, whirlwind morning of trying to get four people out the door at different times and 3) you’re for once lucky enough NOT to be driving behind an 18 wheeler or a Fed Ex truck on the narrow, winding back road that makes up 80% of your commute, so you don’t. And it’s kind of a shame because it’s sooooo pretty and it will all be gone by the time you drive home.
Did you know that the cranberry is the state berry of Massachusetts? No you didn’t!!! Well it’s true. Not only that but cranberry is also the official state color AND cranberry juice is the state beverage of Massachusetts. If you tell me you knew all of that I might have to call you a liar. I mean, who knows that kind of stuff? I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a state beverage. But I do now because I went to the cranberry festival! I hope they ask this question the next time I go to Trivia Night at our local pub. Then I’ll finally be able to answer a question correctly. Trivia is not my strong suit, but now I know something trivial! Hoorah!
Yep, we sure do love cranberries here in Massachusetts. Yum, yum. Actually, can I be totally honest? I actually don’t really like cranberries. While we were waiting in line for the wagon ride to take us out on a tour the woman in front of me offered me a raw cranberry. She had a huge cupful. I don’t really know how she got them, because there were signs posted everywhere warning people not to go in the bogs or take the berries so I knew she couldn’t have done that, because everyone follows the rules right? Anyway, as she asked me she was popping them in her mouth like m&ms. Have you ever tasted a raw cranberry? Ugh, they are the most sour, most off putting, face puckering berry imaginable. And it’s sad because they look so tasty. But it’s a trick. They are only palatable if you boil them down to jelly and add like 16 cups of sugar. I can’t imagine anything worse than eating them raw. And I always pass on the sauce at Thanksgiving (unless my mom makes it- hers is ahMAZing because it has nuts and other stuff like apples and random things so it doesn’t taste like cranberries at all). And also, by the way, they aren’t great for making garlands for Christmas trees. I tried that one year because I saw it on Pinterest and let me tell you, it’s really hard to get a needle and thread through those suckers. But anyway, lots of people love them, and they are a very important fruit. Obviously.
So, it’s kind of cool that we live in the cranberry capital of the world. If it weren’t for our little corner here, Thanksgiving across the country just wouldn’t be the same. And we wouldn’t have craisins. Oh- also something interesting I learned today- craisins have only been around for about 10 years but they are now the number #1 cranberry product sold worldwide. Craisins are made from the skins of the berries that are used to make juice. The skins used to just be thrown away, but then some genius thought- hey these dried up skins look like raisins, so let’s keep them and call them.. hmmm.. what will we call them? Ah! I know- craisins! Because it’s a cranberry raisin! And that’s how the craisin was born. In case you were wondering.
Perhaps you will find yourself here in southeastern Massachusetts one day in early October. If so, please do check out the festival. Or just drive by a bog or two. I promise that you will never look at a cranberry (or a craisin) the same way.