Autumn is here, the leaves are turning and the blanket bog up the mountain has ripe cranberries ready for harvesting.
A while ago I had assumed that cranberries would have come from a bush or a shrub, like bilberries do. But no, they grow on thin trailing vines, with leaves a bit bigger than the size of thyme, resting on mounds of sphagnum moss, with the fruits almost buried by the moss.
Each year we go for the harvest and at first sight there seem to be none. But then you get your eye in, and pretty soon you have a couple of cups full, enough for the sauce for Christmas dinner. Rain-washed berries, sugar, water and 15 minutes of boiling is all it takes to make a jar full and, in a good year, there is maybe enough for one of the neighbours too - living ‘off the fatta the lan’.
This is how and where people would have got their cranberries in the past but these days there are special flooded fields in North America where commercial crops are harvested by huge machines.
Their name in Welsh is ‘llyg aeron’, which translates to shrew berries. Could this be from where Shrewsbury got its name?
|New Jersey Cranberries|