You’ve probably seen stunning photos of BC cranberries being harvested, or maybe you’ve been lucky enough to experience the ‘sea of red’ in person. But how much do you know about this unique local ingredient? Cranberries are one of the few commercial berry crops that’s native to North America, and these ruby red berries have been harvested here for thousands of years by Coast Salish peoples. Perhaps you enjoy cranberries in holiday dishes like cranberry sauce -but these versatile fruits bring a zip of flavour to any dish you use them in, savoury or sweet, and they keep far longer than many other fruits. Here’s your guide to featuring fresh BC cranberries on your table this autumn and all year round.
Sourcing B.C. cranberries
There are 75 cranberry farmers in B.C. who produce a total of over 1 million pounds of fruit each year. Sourcing local cranberries for your meals is a breeze because 95% of B.C.’s crop goes to the farmer’s cooperative you know as Ocean Spray. You’ll find them in grocery stores and farm markets. To ensure they’re local, just look for the label saying Product of B.C. Some B.C. cranberry growers do sell direct to consumers: look for fresh cranberries from HopCott Farms in Pitt Meadows, The BOG Riverside Cranberry Farm in Langley City, or Yellow Point Cranberries on Vancouver Island.
A local superfood
For centuries, cranberries have been used medicinally to treat issues like urinary tract infections and promote overall wellbeing. They are a rich source of flavonoids and phytonutrients, with anti-microbial and anti-oxidant benefits. Newer research suggests cranberries also carry cardiovascular and cancer fighting benefits. Not only are they a healthy local choice - they’re a tasty one.
When can you buy them?
Cranberries are generally available fresh from September to December, and they’ll keep in your fridge for up to 4 weeks. For year-round use, cranberries can keep in your freezer for up to a year! When you’re ready to cook with them, there’s only one question - savory or sweet?
An ingredient for all occasions
While cranberry sauce is a lovely way to add a flash of brighter flavours to meats, cranberries shine in all kinds of dishes! In fact, their versatility may be one of their best kept secrets. They are tremendous in savoury dishes ranging from appetizers to main courses. Cranberries can also balance sweet dishes beautifully and add zest to classic recipes. And of course, a sprinkle of dried cranberries can liven up anything from salads to scones. Here are just a few of our favourites:
For more ideas, search ’cranberries’ on our Recipe page, or head over to the BC Cranberries website! If you are looking to learn more about the spectacular way cranberries are harvested, click here (you won’t believe your eyes!) or check out our cranberry blog from the archives.