From Flower to Package to Your Home
As a foodie I pride myself on knowing a lot about where and how food is produced. But even I have to admit to not knowing much about growing, harvesting and marketing cranberries. Yes, I know they grow in a bog. Yes, I know that New England and particularly Southeastern Massachusetts has the perfect soil for growing them. But outside of those facts I just didn’t know much about cranberries. So, when Pat Rhodes, Brand Manager at Cape Cod Select asked me to tour their bog and processing facilities in Carver, MA, I was pumped! They even allowed me to bring my two year old daughter who couldn’t wait to explore the cranberry “patch”.
As we stepped down into the bog over the canal, the green berries crunched beneath our feet, it was like entering a new world. The low lying plants vined across the expansive surface; bits of sand peeking out beneath the green berries just beginning to turn red and ripen. In a few weeks the harvest will begin. It will be a harvest of 4 MILLION POUNDS of cranberries from 200 acres!
The scale of Cape Cod Select’s operation is difficult to imagine. Growing 4 million pounds of cranberries is one thing, but harvesting, washing, packaging and distributing is another.
For the dry harvest, lawnmower-like machines are used to rake berries from the bog surface. While bags and bins are filled of fresh cranberries, helicopters fly in to assist in the retrieval of berries from the bog.
For the wet harvest method, bogs are filled with water so the cranberries can rise to the top. Did you know cranberries have hollow chambers that allow them to float? For an amazing video of the wet harvest, visit Cape Cod Select’s website – they reduced 8 hours of a wet harvest into 90 seconds!
Once the berries are harvested they are washed and packaged for fresh or frozen use. Cape Cod Select’s warehouse holds some of the most innovative technologies in berry washing and sorting. Who knew?!
And, it’s powered by the sun! These solar panels make their warehouse essentially grid neutral.
In the not to distance future, this quiet warehouse will be full of workers. Ceiling high bins will be stacked full of berries.
Beautiful wooden boxes will be filled with 5lbs of fresh berries and delivered to your doorstep.
They can also be frozen alone or alongside other berries, such as mangoes, blueberries and raspberries and found at your local grocery store.
Just thinking about this process from flower to package is overwhelming! But the Rhodes family handles it with professionalism and a smile. As the fourth generation joins the family business, they have added clever marketing techniques including a bike blender you can see in action at this year’s Link Net.
By sharing creative recipes such as a savory Cranberry Chicken Parm recipe on their website and pages, they are showing us that cranberries aren’t just for baked goods anymore!
When I got home, I challenged myself to find 5 savory cranberry recipes! Here’s what I came up with:
- Pork tenderloin with cranberry sauce (link to recipe)
- Red quinoa with butternut squash and fresh cranberries (link to recipe)
- Chickpea edamame and cranberry salad (link to recipe)
- Brussel sprout cranberry salad (link to recipe)
- Cranberry focaccia bread (image below, link to recipe)
Cape Cod Select’s harvesting and marketing innovations have resulted in a thriving family business that is committed to quality, values, and sustainability. We can’t wait to return to Cape Cod Select for the harvest in a few weeks!
For the full recipes for the Cranberry focaccia bread and Chickpea edamame and cranberry salad visit the Somerville Farm to School Blog!