Cranberries are grown in bogs, the plants are called vines. However they are more like small bushes. Cranberry bogs are expensive to create but use poor land, once made into bogs they can’t readily be converted back. Sand is a very important constituent of the soil makeup. At harvest the bogs are flooded and the berries are agitated from the vine, the float due to air pockets in the berries.
In the northern hemisphere the growing season is over the summer and harvest is September or so. In the southern hemisphere they harvest in March. The cranberries must be stored in the freezer for 2 months or so to break down the internal structure of the fruit which aids the infusion process.
The cranberries are harvested from the bogs and washed. This removes the stalks and leaves from the field. Washed goods are then sorted and frozen. Berries removed at this stage will be sent to make concentrate.
The sortexed, frozen berries are sliced to give a good clean cut. Sweetened Dried Cranberry facilities run process concentrate in tandem. This makes both end products more financially viable. Some juice is removed from the berries before infusing.
The sliced, frozen berries are placed in a tank of hot water to remove some juice from the berries, this is taken to the concentrate facility. The berries are then added to a sugar solution to replace the lost juice with sugar solution. The sugar acts to sweeten the berry to make it palatable and also acts as a preservative.
The cranberries are drained of syrup and then washed (some processors may not wash at this stage to remove excess syrup). The syrup is cleaned and reused.
The drained, infused berries are dried in a continuous dryer to create a stable, dry product.
Our Cranberry trader is Sarah Roberts
Cranberries have probably the most dramatic looking harvest of any fruit. The cranberry grows in a low-lying bush, not dissimilar to heather. They are actually called cranberry vines and are grown in sandy bogs. When the fruit is ripe and ready to harvest the bogs are flooded with water, the vines are agitated to loosen the fruit. The cranberry fruit is full of air pockets so they naturally float. This gives a beautiful layer of ruby red berries on the flooded bog. The berries are then corralled and ‘hoovered’ up. The berries go through a cleaning processes before arriving at the facility.
The berries are then frozen; the freezing process helps to break down the cell structure of the berries which aids infusion.
Once the frozen berries are ready for final processing they are cleaned, sliced, infused, washed and dried before packing.
The main risks associated with cranberries are EVM – stalks, wood and leaves that would come from the bog although due to rigorous washing and cleaning of the berries this is a low risk.
Due to the highly processed nature of the product, if there is a change to the processing it can affect the stability. Ie, passing through the drying oven more quickly at a higher temperature.
The processors we work with are very experienced and have finessed their production process to ensure a stable product.
Sarah is now on maternity leave until Aug 2017.
I joined Freeworld in 2006. I studied English Literature at Edinburgh University then worked for a while as a chef and have a real love of food and cooking. I love finding out where the products we sell end up. I specialise in berries and cherries.
I’ve just returned from maternity leave, my lovely son Archie was born last August. My life has been pretty hectic in the last couple of years, getting married and having Archie. It’s nice to be back at work for a break!