Pass the Cranberries, Please!

Cranberries. Some people love them, some people hate them. Some people like to consume them with their turkey, while others like to use them in bread. Despite your personal opinion on this traditional Thanksgiving food, the amount of effort it takes to process cranberries from the bog to the dinner table is eye-opening.

This article from November 15, 1910 Morris County Chronicle describes the steps to process cranberries. Cranberries, unlike other berries, do not grow in patches, but rather in bogs near rivers and lakes. Sometimes, cranberries are handpicked off the vine or a picking machine is used where a scoop with metal bars is used to catch the berries in a process called dry-harvesting. Next, cranberries are placed in wooden boxes and dumped into a “separator” where the machine separates leaves and twigs from the berries. It also separates the good berries from the worm-invested berries. The berries are finally placed in barrels and loaded into refrigerator cars.

In 1960, the first wet-harvesting machine was invented. As mentioned, cranberries grow in bogs, which tend to flood. This machine is used to shake the cranberries off the vines and rise to the surface, thus providing a new method of harvesting.

Overtime, cranberry growers have created innovative ways to efficiently harvest and process cranberries for us to enjoy. So when you spot cranberries at the dinner table this Thanksgiving, do not be afraid to exclaim “Pass the cranberries please!”

Contributed by Kristi Chanda


“Where Tradition Meets Innovation.” (2020). Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association: Massachusetts Cranberries. Received from

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