I'll be darned if I could find fresh or frozen cranberries in Australia. They come canned, jellied or dried, but no fresh ones were to be found around the holidays and I really missed them. When the kids were little, we strung them with popcorn to make garlands for the Christmas tree. Fresh cranberry sauce was always served with our turkey dinner on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The piece de resistance though was Cranberry Pudding, a holiday dessert I've made since … forever.
It was with a certain amount of delight then that I noticed an Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog open to the public not far away from where we're living now. The sign announced “The Bog...at Patriot Place”. Well, Patriot Place is where the New England Patriots play football. The bog isn't too far away and I'm hoping the stadium wasn't built in the marshy areas in which cranberries thrive, though I'd guess, it probably was.
The bog, first planted in 1929, is surrounded by a half-mile nature trail with interpretive signs en route. We learned a lot about cranberries, cranberry growing and cranberry harvesting. For instance, it was originally called a “crane berry” because the flower resembled a sandhill crane. Cranberry growers rent beehives to insure that there are enough bees to pollinate the cranberry flowers. The freshest, ripest cranberries bounce and a bounce board is actually still used sometimes to sort out the best berries from the culls. You can never learn too much about things like cranberries. You never know when you're going to need all that trivia to write a blog post.
We enjoyed the walk on a warm spring's day. The bog was a reddish-green and not in flower yet. No bees in sight. The nearby fresh water pond was teeming with small fish and little turtles sunned themselves on rocks. We meandered along the bog's edge, over and up hills, through stands of trees with buds swollen to bursting, ready to open with a few more days of warm encouragement.
I remember trudging into the bogs and picking red, ripe wild cranberries in the autumn and freezing them whole in seal-able bags for use later in the season. This wouldn't have done me much good in Australia, I'm afraid (no native cranberries, no freezer), but the thought of having fresh berries again, warmed my heart.
- 2 cups (200g) of fresh cranberries, washed and cleaned
- ½ cup (100g) + ¼ cup (50g) of white sugar
- ½ cup (120g) chopped walnuts
- 4 tbsp (60g) + 2 tbsp (30g) melted butter or margarine
- 1 large, well-beaten egg (aha...same in metric!)
- ½ cup flour (50g)
- Grease a 9” (23x4cm) pie plate and place the fresh (or frozen) cranberries in the bottom. Mix ¼ cup of the sugar with 4 tbsp of the melted butter and the walnuts and drizzle over the cranberries. Mix together the flour, egg and the remaining sugar and butter and pour on top of the cranberries and nuts. Bake at 350F/180C for about 40-45 minutes or until the cranberries are bubbling and the cake-like top is golden brown. Best served warm with freshly whipped cream or ice cream, but it's great when it has cooled, too.