|Mountain cranberry. Courtesy Jonas Bergsten (wikimedia)|
In the past three weeks I had the opportunity to pick wild cranberries in three very different locations. The first was at the top of Mt. Eisenhower. I had a day off and decided to do a hike and take advantage of the perfect weather. Once above tree line I found plenty of Mountain Cranberries, Vaccinium vitus-ideacea, (not to be confused with High Bush Cranberry, Viburnum tribolum, which is a popular landscape shrub). Like the bog cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, Mountain Cranberries are low creeping woody-like vines with small ¾to ½-inchevergreen leaves. Mountain Cranberries are about half the size of bog cranberries, but what they lack in size they make up for in flavor, tasting a lot like apples. Although it takes a bit of crawling around to pick them I found enough to fill my lunch bag On returning home I put some of them to good use making my all-time favorite dessert cranberry pie cake. See the recipe below.
The second location where I picked was closer to home. Along the road less than a mile from my house, cranberries grow in the ditch. These are bog cranberries and although the berries are larger, the plants are small and easily overlooked. While I only picked a handful some passers-by stopped upon seeing me stooped over and inquired if I was picking blueberries. They were surprised when I told them it was cranberries. They drove off with a puzzled look in their faces.
The most recent cranberry picking occurred while I was hiking with one of my daughters in the beach dunes on Cape Cod. After slogging through a mile of sand going up and down over the dunes, we came to a low spot and found a large patch of large just ripening cranberries. In about 20 minutes we picked a gallon. Right now they are in my refrigerator just waiting to be made into a few more cranberry pie cakes.
- Line a 10" pie plate with your favorite pie crust.
- Into this put 2 cups of cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup chopped nuts.
- Make Batter: Cream 3/4 cup softened margarine and 1 cup sugar. Add 2 beaten eggs and 1 cup flour.
- Pour batter over cranberries and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
Recipe Credit: Cape Cod National Seashore 1980