Saturday, October 11, 2008

All Hail The Mighty Cranberry!

All photos Copyright Tattered Edge 2008

So this morning, my son and I drove out to Ft. Langley, BC to the annual Cranberry Festival. We've been a couple times before as a family and had planned to all go today, however my husband tweaked his knee yesterday and we spent 4 hours in the ER last night, so no festival for him. We left him at home with Indy for company.

The morning always starts off with the pancake breakfast. I had to take a pic of this guy stirring pancake batter using an attachment on a power drill. It's all very Red Green, but it gets the job done! No sissy whisk for him!

Doesn't this look yummy? The large sausage is cranberry sausage and it's delicious. The smaller ones are regular breakfast sausages. That power drill made some pretty fluffy pancake batter. They were the best pancakes I've ever had.

My son spotted a stand that said "Ukrainian Kitchen" and went to investigate. He came back to tell me he was having perogies for breakfast. He may not have been born and raised in Winnipeg like I was, but he knows perogies make a good brekki. He'll eat them just about any time of the day really. They are his favourite.

After brekki and wandering around all the various booths where everything under the sun was for sale-food, crafts, jewellery, produce, honey, you name it, we hopped on the free shuttle trolley bus and took a ride out to The Fort Wine Co. to tour the cranberry bogs. I have always wanted to do this and decided this was a must do this time.

In the past we've missed going to the farm because we were racing in Voyageur canoes on the river. (Another popular festival activity.) The year we did it, there was a small boy sitting in front of me. He was far too young to be a paddler. He insisted in resting his paddle on the gunwale and so every stroke he took, he alternated between wacking me across the knuckles or paddling the river into my lap. It was overcast and windy that year and so I had bruised hands and was freezing cold and soaked by the end of the race. Our canoe won, but I swore off Voyageur racing with strangers after that.

This building houses the wine store of the operation. There was wine tasting, but I didn't stop to try any. It looked like people were enjoying the wines though-lots of folks were buying bottles, probably for their holiday dinners on Monday.

So this is what a cranberry bog looks like at harvest time, which is usually late September/early October. Some people think the fields are flooded like this all the time, but in reality, it's only like this during the harvest.

The cranberry bushes grow low to the ground and they have evergreen- like leaves. Once the berries are their signature crimson colour, the fields are flooded with six to eight inches of water above the vines. A harvester is driven through the beds to remove the fruit from the vines. The harvester kind of looks like a small columbine with rotating combs.

Harvested cranberries float in the water.

Then they can be corralled into a corner of the bed (or in this case the rubber circles) and conveyed or pumped from the bed.

This is one of my favourite pics of the berries-aren't they just beautiful?

After touring the cranberry bogs, we hopped back on the trolley bus and went back into Ft. Langley. (It was only a 10 minute drive. Hooray for the free shuttle bus though!)

And here are those cranberries, ready for sale! Fresh from the field and $3/lb. I bought a pound and my friend Lance is going to make his amazing cranberry sauce for our dinner on Monday.

As you can see, they had tons for sale. Over 10,000 lbs! The berries grown in BC are the ones used in many, many Ocean Spray products. I always love to see where food comes from and how it gets from the farm to the table. Most people just don't seem to care anymore, but I think it's important to know (and see) these things. We are so far removed from the food we put in our mouths!

This truck was parked near where we had breakfast.

Check these babies out!

Are these not amazing? I would be curious to know just how much they weighed.

So that was the lion's share of my day-fresh air, good company, good food and new experiences. The autumn is just so beautiful here on the coast. Tomorrow we will be baking pies for Monday's Thanksgiving dinner. This is my favourite time of year.

1 comment:

halowrites said...

what neat photos! the cranberries are such a gorgeous colour. :)