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Low-bush Cranberries

09.20.10

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.

7 Responses

  1. Karlynn says:

    I’m thinking my cranberry jelly would be amazing with some of that goats cheese you are tasting this Saturday…sigh.

  2. So are these just young high-bush cranberries or a different variety altogether? Do they have the same three-lobed leaves that turn red about this time of year? Do they taste any different?

  3. Kevin says:

    Karlynn – yeahhhh..
    Allan – I don’t believe they’re young high-bush, as there were no tall specimens anywhere in this mature forest. Otherwise, largely the same. This may help: http://www.borealforest.org/shrubs/shrub55.htm

  4. [...] foraging successes, especially having spent far too much time harvesting far too few berries of the low-bush variety. Rather than a sheet pan one layer deep of low-bush, roughly the same amount of time spent picking [...]

  5. MikeH says:

    You wouldn’t by any chance have any low bush cranberry seeds, would you? I’ve been search everywhere but with no luck.

  6. maryon says:

    To funny the photo is high bush cranberry. Low bush don, t have a stock or leaves

  7. Anna says:

    Low bush cranberries are all over the Yukon. They are excellent in jellies, muffins, pies. I would love to find a place to pick them in central Alberta!

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