Keep in mind, not all areas of any state, nor even every state, have cranberries orchards that are open to the public. If you know of any others, please tell us using the add a farm form!
These are the areas of the state that have cranberry orchards to pick cranberries. Click on the area closet you!
Cranberries are grown in fields called "bogs" because one common method of harvesting them is to flood the bog, then mechanic shakers loosen the berries from the plants. The berries naturally float since they have an air chamber inside them! Then the floating berries are corralled or raked into a net or boat.
But... if you go to pick them, it will usually be in a dry field and you pick them off the plant! The plans are low growing, less than 12 inches tall, so this isn't something for people with back probems!
The American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) or lowbush cranberry is a fairly small plant. It's more like a scraggly vine that can grow along the ground for up to 6 ft and less than a foot tall. In the Spring, the vines send out runners with flowers than become the cranberries. While you may think of them as growing in a swamp or bog, they are actually grown in a normal field, which surrounded by earthen walls, is only flooded briefly during harvest time in the Fall.
Since cranberries float due to an air pocket inside them. commercial farms flood the fields (called bogs) then use water reels called "egg-beaters" to loosen the cranberries from the vines, freeing them to float to the surface of the water. They then use floating booms to corral the berries and draw them to a corner where they can rake them in.
Good cranberries float! Mushy ones usually sink!
Pour them in to a large bowl of cold water, and swirl them around, scoop them out with your fingers, feeling for any mushy berries, as you scoop. Discard any mushy, soft berries. The picture of the 4 berries shows you unripe through ripe. I'd throw out the one on the far left, but use the other 3.
Good cranberries are firm, not mushy and dark red. Firm and pale red are okay and usable just not ideal.
Yes, you can "can" them or freeze them for later use, or use them fresh, see below!