At a recent farm stay over the weekend, the smell was everywhere – that pungent, somewhat stinky odor…not of manure, but of fall cranberries. I looked, and looked, and looked – nothing. Until I looked down instead of up. I’m good and used to harvesting high-bush cranberries, and even have some planted in my yard, but have never come across the low-bush variety, although I knew they existed. Hardly breaking 3′, they took a while to find but once we did the plants themselves were everywhere. The bad news was these low bushes yielded a small fraction of what a mature tree-sized [12-14'+] highbush variety will put out. After a good effort at picking, only a sheet pan one layer thick was the result. It was like picking wild blueberries. But I’ll take it.
For details on making jelly, check out Karlynn’s recent write up on the high-bush berries. My spartan yield will be enough to flavour a few sauces, garnish a few plates – but again, I’ll take it. These little things are vastly underrepresented in our regional food culture. People dig stinky cheese – perhaps it’s time to embrace the stinky berry.