I always thought that cranberries grew in water,bogs,something to be avoided during a full moon. Guess what...they don't, in fact they grow along the ground on vines,tight little berries that come in all shades,from pale red to purple.
Prior to this century they were harvested by hand, with a scoop which had 26 seven inch teeth sticking out from a wooden handle, sliding into the vine like a rake, plucking up the berries and often the vine with it. It was long backbreaking process and to get a real idea read http:www.unmassed.edu/specialprograms/caboverde/cranberry/semedo3.html a wonderful history or it all.
Ah...the mechanical era came along. and so did production. Enter "Wet Picking."
and a motorized picker ,"Water Reel" or egg beaters could now be used to beat them off the vine and beautiful ruby jewel like marbles could float to the top...a man stands in front to guide and mark the place they left off and also feel for any deep holes( something you don't want to fall into with waders!) and they go round and round until all done. Oh yeah..how do they float to the top? They have small air pocket in the middle where the seeds are,
Then they are corralled together ready to
be sucked up into a waiting truck..that rinses and loads them ready to be delivered to the plant.
Each truck is weighed and product tested..
Before unloading, samples are randomly sampled for any pesticides or other contaminates..
then unloaded by dirving up on a ramp that tilts the truck back to dump out the berries onto belt system sorting for sizes and later determined for usage eg. juice,frozen,packaged etc.
So the next time you slide out that familiar red log of cranberry jelly for holiday turkey or chicken, ( mmm duck as well) or any other kind of cranberry sauce item you might have in mind, think of the process it took to take it from here to your table. To me they will never look the same.
For more images.. http://www.matthewpace.com/cranberryslideshow