Cranberries are a Massachusetts signature. They were first cultivated here (right here on Cape Cod, in fact, in East Dennis!) and they are still one of the states marquee crops. Did you know that cranberries are also one of the few native fruits of North America? Turns out cranberries are just full of fun trivia facts.
I live on a cranberry bog and every year, right around Columbus Day, my backyard gets a water view as they flood the bog for harvesting. The bog is owned by a Finnish American who is known around the neighborhood simply as ‘Chet’ (I’ve never caught his last name). At 6 feet tall, with a bushy beard and the carriage of an ox, you could dress him up in a thick fur cloak and he could be mistaken for a Scandinavian Father Christmas. His family has farmed that bog since the 1920s. For a couple days straight, he drives around on this crazy tractor-like machine that uses long spikes to churn up the cranberry branches just under the water and releases the berries. Did I mention he wears a Viking hat while he does this? It’s a nice touch and Chet can pull it off. The berries create this blood red wake behind him. Every year I take the same picture of a sea of floating berries down on the bog. It never gets old. The best part of being Chet’s neighbor is that we get a free bushel of cranberries every year. Those wooden crates hold A LOT of berries, so we have to come up with creative ways to use them. I make cranberry sauce, scones, garlands for my Christmas tree. I tried making homemade cranberry juice, but it was a big failure and undrinkable after a whole day’s work.
In honor of the season, here is a cranberry style drink recipe. I adapted it from the blog Horrible Housewife. You can find the original recipe here. I used honey instead of the Sweet’N Low listed in the original (I’m not a big alternative sweetener fan). The sweetener is more of a guideline than a fixed amount. You’ll want more or less depending on how much sugar is already added to the cranberry juice and/or how tart you like it. This toasty punch is perfect for the cold, brisk days we are having. Works great with or without the rum.
Cranberry Cinnamon Punch
64 oz Cranberry Juice
4 Cinnamon Sticks
2 Oranges, juiced- yielding 1 cup of juice
¼ cup honey
8 oz Rum
Orange Slices & Cinnamon Sticks, for garnish
Pour all the ingredients into a large sauce pan or dutch oven and cook over medium heat until simmering. Alternatively, pour all ingredients into a slow cooker and cook for at least 1 hour before serving warm.