The cranberry is Massachusetts' number one cash crop, bringing in $76.8 million per year. In honor of cranberry season, we collected the following seven "juicy" facts about the Bay State's favorite berry.
1. Cranberries are one of only a few fruits native to North America.
While more tropical countries are known for their bounty of fresh native fruits, North America can only boast the cranberry, blueberry, strawberry, gooseberry, and the Concord grape.
2. Cranberries have medicinal properties.
You have probably heard that cranberry juice is great for flushing bacteria out of the urinary tract, but these berries are also rich in antioxidants, Vitamin-C, and more. Perhaps this is why the Pequot Indians of Cape Cod used them in a survival cake known as pemmican. It was made from “ibimi” (the Pequot word for cranberry which translates to "bitter berry") and ground venison, and was believed to have healing properties.
3. Cranberries bounce and float.
According to Ocean Spray, cranberries contain small pockets of air that enable them to bounce and float. This is why the fruit is visible as it grows in water-filled cranberry bogs. They do not grow under the water, but rather float on the surface.
4. Massachusetts is NOT the largest producer of cranberries.
Believe it or not, Wisconsin is actually the largest producer of cranberries at about 4.67 million barrels per year. Cranberries are also produced in Oregon, New Jersey, and Washington despite being the official berry of Massachusetts. We come in second, with 2.16 million barrels produced last year.
5. Cranberries are good for your teeth.
Worried cranberries will stain your teeth? Lay your fears to rest! Among the cranberry's health benefits are natural compounds called flavonoids that can help prevent bacteria and plaque-buildup on teeth. Unfortunately, these benefits only hold true for the natural berry or pure cranberry juice. The added sugar in cranberry juice cocktail negates the berry's positive effects.
6. Cranberries are extremely heavy.
Along with the small air pockets mentioned above, cranberries contain a large amount of water. In fact, 90% of each berry is water making them very heavy. In fact, it only takes 450 cranberries to make up a pound!
7. Cranberries are the unofficial fruit of Thanksgiving.
It probably comes as no surprise that 20% of the 400 million pounds of cranberries Americans consume each year are eaten during Thanksgiving week. That's about 80 million pounds of berries in 7 days! Another fun fact: each can of cranberry sauce contains 200 cranberries.