Cranberry harvest in New England

cranberry harvest new england

My friend R. and I were chatting about food while cleaning up in the kitchen after dinner. Then, I told him: “Tu sais, ça fait des années que je veux voir la récolte des canneberges,” (You know, it’s been years since I wanted to see the harvest of cranberries).

Ah bon ?” he exclaimed, surprised.

I looked at him. He became quiet. He’s thinking, I thought. I could see it. He’s cooking something!

I think I can help,” he said, with a glorious smile lighting his face.

It’s one of the many nice things I like about R. The fact that he’s têtu comme une mule (stubborn like a mule), persistent — did I say before that he’s a medical doctor? — and that he’s always enthusiastic about anything that’s in relation with food. We’re friends because of that too.

cranberry bog carver

A few days after we talked, he emailed me.

C’est fait!” (Done!) he wrote.”You’re all set. Going to visit a cranberry bog.

How did you do it?” I wrote back.

“I know people,” he had casually added.

What he actually meant was that he had written to a friend working at Ocean Spray, and one thing leading to another, he managed to plan the visit to a cranberry farm for me.

He might not have known it, but that simple thing made me really happy!

cranberry juice ocean spray

On Thursday, we woke up to a bright sunny day. That’s really lucky! I thought. It had rained the entire day before.

“Lulu, on va voir des champs de canneberges** aujourd’hui,” (Lulu, we’ll see cranberry bogs today,) I told her as I was slipping a cozy jacket and a warm hat over her head. It might be windy on the bog, Jennifer, our guide, had warned me. Bring layers!

My friend E. was going to come with me. While waiting for her, I ate one bowl, or rather two, of warm spicy sweet potato and butternut squash soup to keep my energy up, and I packed a few hard-boiled eggs and an avocado comté sandwich along with Lulu’s lunch, cumin-flavored mashed vegetables and stewed peaches I had prepared for her. I knew it was going to be a beautiful day.

** Perhaps the right term is cannebergière, but I like the way words like “champs de canneberges” sound.

cranberry bog new england carver

Cranberry and apple crumble

cranberry bog new england carver

It’s hard to know where to start. During the few hours we spent with Jennifer, I learned so much. My eyes were taken by so much beauty as I watched beautiful shades of red coloring the ground generously. Like a happy painting.

Lulu gluten free cranberry upside down cake

Lulu gluten free cranberry upside down cake

It took us forty five minutes to drive south to Carver. As soon as we got out of the car, Lulu looked around swiftly, stared for ten seconds and then started to smile and laugh. I looked around too, and just realized that I wanted to do the same. I was so happy to finally see a cranberry bog in real life!

Lulu gluten free cranberry apple crumble

A tall man with a generous look on his face walked in our direction to greet us. He was Larry, the owner of the farm. With his brother, he started to tell us about the farm and how the harvest takes place. I was all ears. I had my questions ready too.

cranberry sauce

Cranberries are harvested in various states throughout the United States. Wisconsin is the biggest cranberry supplier, but Massachusetts, Maine, and neighboring states in Canada like Nova Scotia, Québec and New Brunswick have a fair amount of cranberry growers too. To do well, cranberries need an acidic soil to grow, and a climate that combines cold winters — even if they are sensitive to ice and snow — and warm summers, just like in New England.

It takes a year for a crop of cranberries to be ready. Ninety percent of the time, the bog remains dry. Then, by mi-September each year, when the cranberries are ripe, the bog is flooded, ready for harvesting. The harvest will then last until about the end of October. It’s a cycle that repeats every year, with crops better some years than others.

Many of the farmers believe in Mother Nature,” Jennifer said. “If a crop is good one year, it’s partially because of the weather, of course, but it’s also due to what Nature keeps for us,” she told me her growers often report.

Lulu gluten free cranberry upside down cake

When the bog is flooded, while under water, the cranberries are still attached to the vine. Harvesters drive across the entire the bog on a machine — resembling a tall tractor — that detaches the cranberries from the vine. Once this done, the cranberries are gathered in one area to facilitate the harvest (called corralling). They are pumped, washed and then transferred to a truck.

The process is simple and beautiful to watch. Lulu enjoyed it as much as E. and I did.

Lulu gluten free cranberry upside down cake

Lulu gluten free cranberry upside down cake

Do you want to taste a fresh cranberry?” Larry said, picking a berry between his big fingers.

Can I?

Sure!” he said, laughing.

He took a knife out of his pocket, cut the berry he was holding open and held it to me. I bite in the fruit, not sure what to expect. “Wow!,” I said, making a face after I swallowed the fruit. It tasted tart. But I liked it. I had to try again. I popped another piece in my mouth. The taste was becoming addictive.

It reminds me of a red currant,” I told Larry.

Here!” he said, holding large bags of plump cranberries for me to bring home. For some odd reason, they looked much bigger than the ones I was used to seeing in the store.

That’s a lot of cranberries,” I said, laughing. He responded something, I knew, but I was already lost in thoughts of what I was going to make with my precious freshly harvested fruit.

Lulu gluten free cranberry upside down cake

Lulu gluten free cranberry upside down cake

Cranberry upside down cake

And once we were back home, later that night, the first thing I baked was a cranberry and apple crumble. And I made an upside down cranberry cake and cranberry sauce too, thinking that, somehow, the cranberries looked almost as pretty served on the table as they did when they were floating on their bed of water.


Lulu gluten free cranberry upside down cake

Cranberry sauce — Cranberry and apple crumble
Cranberry sauce

Makes 1 2/3 cups

You need:

  • 3 cups fresh cranberries (300 g)
  • 2/3 cup blond cane sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 cardamom pods


  • In a small pot, bring water and sugar with spices to a simmer, until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the cranberries and bring to a simmer.
  • Once the berries have burst, cook on low heat, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the stove and let cool completely at room temperature. Discard the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. The sauce thickens as it cools. Store in the fridge. I like to add mine to plain yogurt with granola, even if it’s really known as an accompaniment to savory foods.
Cranberry and apple crumble

For 6 servings

You need:

For the fruit:

  • 2 apples
  • 2 cups halved cranberries (200 g)
  • 1/3 cup blond cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • For the topping:

  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 7.5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, diced

You’ll have leftovers of topping, which you can store in the fridge for a few days, or freeze for future uses


  • Preheat the oven at 350 F and have 6 small ramekins ready. Butter them and set aside.
  • In a bowl, combine the cranberries, apples, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Divide between the ramekins.
  • Chop the walnuts coarsely.
  • To prepare the crumble topping, in a bowl, combine the buckwheat and quinoa flours. Add the almond meal, light brown sugar, walnuts and lemon zest.
  • Add the butter and using the tip of your fingers, work the ingredients together to obtain crumbles.
  • Add on top of the fruit.
  • Bake the crumbles for 30 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbly and the top is golden. Let cool and server lukewarm with plain yogurt.
Posted in Food & Travel, Food Photography, Fruit, Gluten Free


  1. Oooh, I loved seeing your pictures go up last week. What a great adventure your friend planned for you! It’s stunning. And little Lu is getting so big!

    Kisses to the both of you, from far off on the west coast.

  2. Such a great post. I bought a huge basket of fresh cranberries from a roadside stand this weekend and next weekend is the cranberry festival here, I’m so looking forward to it.

  3. Thanks for the flashback to my childhood, I grew up in Carver and remember, as a child, watching them harvest the cranberries. I so enjoy your writing and photography.

  4. gosh, how special it must be to see that ‘live’! thanks for sharing your adventure with us. gorgeous photos, as usual.

  5. What a beautiful thing to see! I love seeing Lulu’s hands touching the cranberries. Priceless.

  6. Oh, your post makes me want to cry! I grew up in Marshfield, Massachusetts—my bus stop was actually the mounded up dirt on the side of a cranberry bog. My parents now live a couple towns over from Carver, and every autumn I fly out to see them. The fall is my favorite time of year, and nothing makes me happier than a cranberry bog being harvested in Plymouth county. Unfortunately, I can’t be there this year, and your post brings back lots of beautiful memories. Thank you!
    I love the shot of the man in the hat, by the way, and the shot of the chubby little hand reaching into the cranberries.

  7. I know it’s already been used, but stunning really is the best description of your photos – both at the cranberry bog and of the wonderful dishes you made. Lulu is a lucky little girl to have had such an experience.

  8. I have long admired your site and wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying it! I am also learning french so the french you use is so nice for me to see :). These recipes look really good. Do you have the recipe for the cranberry upside down cake too for us? 🙂

  9. Wow how fantastic, I adore the images of floating red berries as far as the eye can see. I would love to try a fresh tart cranberry too, alas we only get the already sweetened dried “craisins” here. A truly beautiful post!

  10. My husband and were both amazed at the images of the floating cranberries. What a thing of beauty. Thank you for sharing it.

  11. You never fail to inspire me. I tend to give all your recipes a try and this one will be no different. You make this fashion type return to her undercover foodie indulgence weekly! I adore cranberries, again thank you!

  12. Fantastic chance you had to visit a cranberry bog. A see of cranberries….magnifique! Et cette petite Lulu…Elle a du s’en mettre plein les yeux!
    I love how your photos are always so fresh, always inspired. Like you 🙂

  13. I normally just read this from google reader, but I had to come and comment to say those pictures are gorgeous, and the story and recipes are great, Thanks so much for sharing this with us 🙂

  14. You’ve inspired me to make something wonderful with cranberries this season besides relish and bread. Delicious recipes, great photos. I love all the shades of blues and reds and pinks. But it’s Lulu that steals the show once again!

  15. It is Canadian Thanksgiving today, Bea, and I am thankful for you. I am inspired and deeply touched by your eye, your artisty, and your heart.

  16. Amazing sight! What a treat. And a very interesting article to read.
    Will you PLEASE give us your recipe for the upside down cake? It looks wonderful and one I could do with plums int he absence of cranberries (not easy to find in Rome)? Please?

  17. What a wonderful world is your blog. Nice to meet your ‘cranberries’ in these pictures.
    I discovered you crossing other italian blog.
    I’ll visit you again.

  18. Vaov very impressing pictures i loved it. It is like a paint. J’adorait Lulu aussi certainly futur blogger, photographer with lots of taste:)

  19. Wow that is such an amazing day out. I also very very interesting, I was fascintated by how the cranberries grow, also how they harvest. We do get cranberries here in the UK but nothing compared and they are so expensive. Your photos are brilliant, have you ever made a calendar?

    Yes can we please have the recipe for your upside – down cake..thank you.

  20. So beautiful! You reminded me of hot paprika harvest here in Serbia. Although, it’s not that pretty as cranberry harvest 😀

  21. How splendid! Thank you for sharing – I’ve never seen the cranberry harvest and now I know how it looks like.

  22. One of my dream too….to see crnberries being harvested!!

    Thanks for the beautiful pictures it seems like being there.

    Ciao from Italy

  23. Very beautiful, very informative… I wish I could make a nice torte out of those fresh cranberries.

    Greetings from the Kitchen of Oz.

  24. Je crois que c’est un des billets que je préfère pour son côté surprise! c’est fantastique! bravo pour les photos!

  25. What a great post! Thank you for the explanation, I had no idea that was how cranberries were harvested, or that it looked like that at all. And I just loved the pictures of bébé sticking her hand into the cranberries, amongst all the other gorgeous pictures. Now I want to visit a cranberry bog too…

  26. What gorgeous photos! I can taste the cranberries just by seeing them through your eyes.

  27. My brother lives in Massachusetts and he talks about the bogs out there. Your photos are fabulous of the cranberries. And I like the healthy ingredients on top of the crumble.

  28. Quel spectacle magnifique ! Je suis heureuse – moi aussi – d’avoir vu d’un peu plus près cette récolte dont je n’avais aucune idée.

    J’en profite pour te remercier des photos de ton été français qui étaient un vrai bonheur. J’ai trouvé mes propres photos bien pâlottes à côté… Je vis en France mais tu m’as donné envie de redécouvrir le pays avec tes yeux.

    Keep up the great work !

  29. Bea, your photos are wonderful, your writing inspiring, and your recipes delicious! I can’t wait to try this…
    I had no idea this is how cranberries are harvested, so thank you for teaching me something new today!

  30. I have never seen such beautiful photos of cranberries and their home:) Lulu is the icing on the cake~

  31. tout est somptueux, serein et voluptueux !
    et pourtant on sent l’effervescence derrière les belles photos…
    Et que dire des recettes, on ne sait quoi préférer !
    Merci !!!!!!!!!

  32. Je suis arrivée ici par le lien laissé par Lili (juste au-dessus) sur Facebook et je suis sans voix

  33. Thanks for sharing this adventure with us! I’ve always wanted to check out a bog too! I Loooove cranberries.

  34. J’ai beaucoup apprécié ton reportage sur la culture de la canneberge en Nouvelle-Angleterre. Mais, pour tes lecteurs québécois, peut-être as-tu oublié que cette culture est aussi très florissante au Québec. Voir le site de l’Association des Producteurs de canneberges du Québec (APCQ) ici :
    Merci encore pour ce billet.

  35. Ah, what a beautiful story and pictures. It brings me back to my childhood, watching an episode of “Reading Rainbow” about harvesting cranberries. Thank you ever so much for sharing!

  36. I saw the process only on TV and have been wanting to see cranberry harvest in actuality… you’re lucky. Appreciate your beautiful photos and stories.. boy, those desserts you’ve prepared with them look so good! :o)

  37. beautiful presentable pictures & interisting story.thank you for sharing,Bea

  38. so lovely! i used to live right near carver, when i would drive by in october and see the sea of red- it was magical! iwould sit there and watch and think how everyone should see the harvesting! your pictures are gorgeous what a lovely day it must have been!

  39. very impressed by your pics! I prefer pears to apples for my crumble, it´s more… hm….fruity

  40. Wow, what an incredible experience! Thanks for sharing your lovely photos and story! Lulu is such a cutie!

  41. Pingback: Cranberry and Apple Crumble « Foodshots

  42. What a treat! Thank you, Bea, for sharing this! Mes yeux et mes papilles ont apprecie! and your upside down cake is so lovely…can I have a bite????

  43. Your pictures are gorgeous and you reminded me that I probably once again missed the harvesting season up in WI. I’ve been trying to make it over there for the past 5 years, but each time work gets hectic and I remember about it too late. I’ll definitely try your recipes though, they look amazing, and I’ll pretend that next year I’ll definitely make it there in time!

  44. Good god, it’s a true ocean of cranberries… Now I understand why one of the brands is called “Ocean spray” !

  45. Wow this post is so interesting and beautiful. I had heard about cranberries being harvested in a bog but I couldn’t work out why farmers would put them in water to harvest in the first place!
    Cranberries are definitely not grown in South Africa but butternut soup is practically an institution. I add a little orange zest to mine just before serving (very finely grated), others add a little curry flavour.
    One Christmas I had a bag of cranberries in my freezer and I made cranberry mincemeat for mince pies which was a nice alternative to the dried fruit version which is a bit too sweet. Cant wait for your next post, you are such an inspiration.
    Thank you.

  46. oh you have both warmed my heart and made me homesick for this time of year in New England. as always you take me there with your outstanding images and words. xoxo

  47. Vous avez l’air d’avoir une vie tellement saine, heureuse et épanouie… ça fait si plaisir à lire. Et merci pour les informations sur la récolte de la canneberge, qui m’a toujours fasciné également. Venant d’apprendre par vous qu’une machine décroche les canneberges de leur plants, je me demande désormais l’intérêt d’inonder les champs plutôt que de récolter en même temps que la machine arrache le fruit… si ce n’est pour le grand plaisir de nos yeux !


  48. beautiful photographs, what a privilege.
    this is now on my list of must things to see in person.
    thanks for sharing.

  49. How lovely, seeing that color is so refreshing to the eye. I feel like I have visited myself. Now it’s time to make cranberry lemon bread. and duck with cranberries!

  50. How truly wonderful Bea! I’ve always wanted to be there when cranberries are harvested – thank you for taking me on this virtual tour! and look at Lulu. oh Bea how time flies when we live it through our children. Even after 7 years of motherhood I am always amazed at the new things we learn from them.
    Really like the variety of recipes here with cranberries. I have been cooking with them quite a lot lately too.

  51. Most people would just answer something like; ‘Yeah, that would be great!’…
    You are very lucky, which you seem fully aware of, to have a friend who will go through the fuss of arranging something like this just to make you happy. Some people really are out of the ordinary.

  52. Beautiful story, Bea! And gorgeous photos! I love the picture of Lulu, watching the prosses of picking cranberries! And of cause the crumble picture;)

    In Russia cranberry – is a usual thing. We used to pick it up ourselves each summer, during our holidays at the north of Russia. We always made a lot of cranberry jam, tarts and pies with cranberry and this year – two of my favs are cranberry and buckwheat clafoutis and cranberry and apple chutney.

  53. Ça c’est un ami génial ! J’aurais adoré voir cette récolte ! C’est hallucinant les cranberries dans l’eau… Et puis j’adore ce que tu as fait avec la tonne de cranberries qu’ils t’ont donnée :o)

  54. Thank you…I just learned so much about cranberries, which I love. I also love the different flours you’ve used in your cake recipe. Where do you find Quinoa flour? I’ve looked and looked and can’t seem to find here (Toronto).

  55. Je n’aurais jamais imaginé que les cranberries se récoltaient ainsi! C’est un spectacle magnifique! Quelles couleurs!

  56. Pingback: {cranberry harvest} « {life as we know it}

  57. Those photos were SUCH A TREAT! My husband is fascinated by cranberry bogs, and he really loved looking at them too. Thank you for posting your amazing work–it’s absolute art! And I want that cake!

  58. Bonjour Béa,
    Je suis fan ! Ton reportage est vraiment magnifique.
    Cela me donne vraiment envie de découvrir aussi comment se passe cette récolte (et de faire de bons desserts !). Merci à Miss Diane pour le lien, je vais me renseigner.

    Clementine (petite française du Québec)

  59. Your photos never fail to wow me. I’m always fascinated by cranberries and how they harvest them, so thanks for those incredible photos and descriptions of your trip to the bog!!

  60. Thank you for sharing this amazing experience ! Looooved the pictures, so beautiful ! In Brazil, where I am from, there are no cranberries. The first time I came to visit the U.S., I felt in love with the taste and color of the juice and then the fruit !!!
    I also love the name you gave to your precious daughter, Lulu, so cute, just like her !

  61. How wonderful! Your cranberry bog visit made me want to try to love cranberries 😉 The upside down cake looks absolutely delicious!

  62. this is amazing.
    i would love to see this in person!

    this is great!

    so glad to find you 🙂

    would love to be friends or swap links!


  63. These pictures are so beautiful!!! I’m moving to Boston soon so I’ll definitely try and make a trip like this next year. Love, love, love your blog and your photography 🙂 Keep up the fabulous work

  64. I have never dreamed that the Cranberry harvest was made this way! We do not have Cranberries in Brazil and it´s very difficult even to find the dry ones, so I was very pleased to learn more about it! The pictures are breathtaking, you sure have captured the beauty in all splendor! Thanks for sharing with us!
    Love from Brazil!

  65. Merci, c’est splendide. Ces couleurs. Je n’aurais jamais imagine ca. Qu’est-ce qu’elles sont grosses! J’attends avec impatience de pouvoir en trouver des fraiches ici, c’est si rare.

  66. I found it by accident, I also have a blog (not as wonderful as yours) and was looking for inspiration. Not at all.

  67. Thank you so much everyone. I highly recommend the trip if you have a cranberry bog nearby. Check on line to see where the producers near you, in the US or Canada, are.

    As to where to find quinoa flour, typically in health stores (Whole Foods in the US), or online as per this link. Hope this helps.

  68. Béa,
    merci beaucoup pour votre magnifique site qui est un reservoir d’inspiration non seulement pour les recettes de cuisine mais aussi pour votre facon de voir et presenter les choses. Je vous ecris egalement pour vous demander si vous avez un livre préféré de recettes pour bebes ?

  69. I did know that the harvesting of cranberries was so beautiful. I feel strange about it since I live in Quebec. Thanks for sharing your visit at the cranberry bog. The crumble and the upside down cake are tempting. I will bake those while the fruits are still in season.

  70. Pingback: Cranberry Upside Down Cake by La Tartine Gourmande | At Home with Kim Vallee

  71. Thanks for the cranberry sauce recipe … I must try it! 😀

  72. I really loved the photos, as usual! Just a tiny note, Canada has provinces (and territories), not states.

  73. wow I have never even heard of a cranberry bog – and those photos are so amazing that I would love to visit one now – although I doubt there are any in Australia 🙁

  74. Pingback: all of a twitter — Gill Stannard

  75. What an amazing day! Thank you for sharing it with us. I’m so grateful to all farmers who tirelessly bring things like fresh cranberries to our tables.

  76. This is one of the most beautiful blog posts I’ve ever seen! Thank you!! Living in the desert, I had no idea that cranberries grew in bogs. This is one more thing on my list of things that I must see in person!!

  77. My cousin just posted this link to her Facebook page and I wanted to personally say thank you! Larry is my uncle and his brother, Paul, is my father. I have been living in Arizona for the past six years and have missed being home during harvest. So it was a special treat to not only see pictures of our bogs, but to also see them of my family. Continue the fantastic work; I will be trying these recipes, the cranberry-apple crumble in particular, shortly!

  78. Wow wow wow! What a nice field trip! I have never eaten fresh cranberries! Just the dried ones are costly enough! I love the luscious splash of red!

  79. I found your blog through Sue’s cousin’s link on her facebook page as well. Sue’s cousin is a dear friend. This year my son and daughter-in-law were visiting from Alabama. My daughter-in-law had never seen a bog, or a cranberry harvest either. Sarah, who is Larry’s daughter took us to Carver to watch the Harju Brother’s harvest their fruit. We have some wonderful photos as well and were thrilled to see yours. It was a fun day for us to teach our daughter-in-law about cranberry harvesting. Larry and Paul’s mother and father were at the bog the day we were there and Mrs. Harju had Sarah give me some of the home made cranberry sauce that she had made. It was wonderful. Thank you for posting the story and the photos. It was a fun surprise to see photos of people we know. I am sending the link to my daughter-in-law. She will be thrilled to see your photos. They will bring fond memories to her. Thanks especially for the recipes. I will be trying each one.

  80. Oh, I’m so jealous! I’ve driven by the bogs when we lived in the Boston area (7 years) but never had a tour. How lucky you all are – and a beautiful day too! And of course, thanks for the recipe ideas!

  81. You clearly don’t need any more comments, but what a wonderful post. Those guys look exactly like the ones in the commercial. And WOW! The bog pictures are superb.

  82. Pingback: Weekend getaway to Martha’s Vineyard — Weekend à Martha’s Vineyard | La Tartine Gourmande

  83. What amazing pictures! I love the contrast between cramberries and water…

  84. Your photos are fantastic, as usual. I tried the recipe for the crumble – it’s a keeper. Thanks!

  85. These are absolutely breathtaking photos! I live in the Philippines, so the only cranberry I am aware of comes in form of juice or Cosmopolitans! Haha!

    I am including visiting a cranberry bog in the things I need to do before I die!

    Thank you for your wonderful photos 🙂 Lulu is an absolute doll! She is so lucky to be having such wonderful experiences at her young age 🙂

  86. that middle photo looks like RT 6a in sandwich, is it? I live right around there.

  87. It was a pleasure having you as my guest this day! I look at this blog every day and I look forward to see what your next adventure is.

    All the best to you and that beautiful little girl of yours! She was my youngest (and by far, the cutest) guest this year! 🙂

  88. Pingback: Cecilie Moestue » Cranberry harvest in New England

  89. Wow! I never knew how cranberries grew or were harvested. This was very interesting to read and your beautiful photos certainly add to the story.

  90. I did not know your blog until now and I love it! Your photos are very impressive… and gorgeous! Bravo!

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  92. Pingback: La torta con il rarissimo cranberry - Quella Cucina

  93. I just saw the picture in Pinterest and I think that the explanation is fantastic. I’m a Spaniard and I really do not know about cranberry, now I want to read more about, thanks for the nice pictures

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