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25+ Cranberry Facts – Interesting History, Trivia & Facts About Cranberries

Let’s talk about cranberry facts. Other than being the main ingredient in a Thanksgiving side dish, what do you know about this tasty fruit? Get ready to brush up on your facts about cranberries!

Have you ever wondered things like “how do cranberries grow”, “can you eat raw cranberries”, and “where do cranberries grow”? 

If so, you’re in luck! Below are the answers to all of those questions and many, many, more. Keep reading to learn fascinating cranberry facts.

Text that reads "25+ facts about cranberries - visit Always the Holidays for fascinating cranberry facts" surrounded by colored pencil drawings of cranberries, cranberry leaves, and hearts as a border.

By the end of the post, you’ll be a cranberry expert! Don’t forget to let us know in the comments which of these facts about cranberries is your favorite.

Is cranberry a fruit?

Yes, a cranberry is a fruit. It is also a berry! You may be surprised to learn that many of what we commonly consider berries, are in fact, not berries at all!

The cranberry is one of the rare few which is commonly considered a berry, and also fits the botanical definition of a berry.

Botanically speaking, a berry is a fruit which forms from one ovary of a single flower. 

A fruit bowl with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwi and oats with various fruit styled around it.

The botanical definition of berry includes some fruit we would not commonly consider berries, like tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, grapes, bananas, etc. Those fruit are also products of the ovary of a single flower, technically making them berries.

In addition to cranberries, blueberries are also, botanically speaking, considered berries.

However, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are not (botanically speaking) considered berries. They are technically aggregate fruits, which means that they are fruit which come from a flower which has more than one ovary!

If you find this topic as fascinating as we do, head over to our post on pumpkin facts to learn about some “vegetables” that are really fruit! (And if you’re wondering- yes, pumpkins are technically berries too).

Cranberry facts

Add to your knowledge of cranberries by checking out these facts about cranberries below. Some may surprise you!

A clipart cranberry with the word "cranberry" underneath it to bring up the topic asking how did cranberry get its name?

  • Ever wonder why you always see cranberries during Thanksgiving? Well, cranberries are actually one of the six main symbols of Thanksgiving.
  • Cranberries are 90% water, and contain pockets of air. These air pockets cause cranberries to float.
  • In the 1880s, a New Jersey cranberry grower named John “Peg Leg” Webb discovered that cranberries bounce. The bounciness of cranberries is also because of the air pockets they contain.
  • Americans consume 400 million pounds of cranberries every year. 20% of that amount (80 million pounds) are consumed during the week of Thanksgiving.
  • There is an alternative rock band out of Limerick, Ireland, called “The Cranberries”.
  • If you lined up all the cranberries produced in North America, the line would stretch from Los Angeles to Boston 565 times!! That sure is a lot of cranberries.

Want to make a classic cranberry drink? Check out the Cosmopolitan! We have an entire page dedicated to National Cosmopolitan Day with a recipe included.

Can you eat raw cranberries?

Yes, it is safe to eat cranberries raw. However, if you’ve ever tasted one, you might not want to. 

Two hands holding a large scoop of cranberries above a huge pile of cranberries.

Cranberries have a tart (almost sour) taste, and for that reason, many people prefer not to eat them raw. 

In fact, only 5% of cranberries are sold fresh, the other 95% are processed. Think about how you normally eat cranberries – often times, they’re sweetened.

How to eat cranberries

If you’re looking for a cranberry recipe that uses raw cranberries, but is also not super tart, check out our 3 ingredient fresh cranberry relish recipe.

A mug of spiced wine with cranberries, star anise, oranges, and cinnamon as an example of how to eat cranberries.

You could also try making a fresh salad with dried cranberries on top, or bring homemade cranberry sauce to your next Thanksgiving gathering.

Want to try drinking your cranberries? There are two types of cranberry juices you can find – one is sweetened, and one is unsweetened.

You could also try them mulled in slow cooker spiced wine during the holiday season. We, at Always the Holidays, love this warm, boozy, fall recipe!

Cranberry recipes

If you love cranberries as much as I do, be sure to check out these recipes featuring fresh cranberries, dried cranberries and cranberry juice:

How did cranberry get its name?

Cranberries have not always been called cranberries! Indigenous American people called this fruit ibimi which literally means “bitter berry”.

An illustration of cranberries, cranberry flowers, and the word cranberry.

German and Dutch settlers renamed the fruit “crane berry” because they thought flower and vine looked like the head, neck and bill of a crane.

Over time the first “e” was dropped, and the name was shortened to cranberry. 

Facts about cranberries

Did you enjoy learning those facts about cranberries? Here are some more cranberry facts for you to enjoy!

A wooden bowl of cranberries with a wooden spoon of cranberries next to it.

  • There are approximately 450 cranberries in a pound.
  • It takes 4,400 cranberries to make a gallon of cranberry juice.
  • One cup of cranberries has 50 calories.
  • It takes approximately 200 cranberries to make a can of cranberry sauce.
  • If you lined up all the cans of cranberry sauced consumed yearly, it would stretch 3,385 miles. That distance measures the same as the length of 67,500 football fields!


 

Where do cranberries grow?

Cranberries are one of few fruits native to North America. Some others are blueberries and Concord grapes.

The primary cranberry growing states are New Jersey, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Washington and Oregon.

A cranberry bog filled with water and cranberries to answer the question "where do cranberries grow?"

Wisconsin produces the most cranberries. Massachusetts is in second place for the most cranberries produced in the US.

The reason cranberries are primarily grown in those five states, is because they have a specific set of needs in order to be fruitful.

How do cranberries grow?

As we learned earlier, cranberries are a fruit. If you imagined them growing on a fruit tree (like oranges, lemons, or limes), that would be understandable, but unfortunately incorrect.

Five cranberries on a vine showing how do cranberries grow.

Cranberries grow on low running vines in marshes and sandy bogs. They need acidic peat soil, and to be near fresh water.

Cranberries have a growing season of April through November. They are harvested once a year from the middle of September, to early in November.

Do cranberries grow in water?

Contrary to popular belief, while cranberries need to be near water, they do not actually grow in water.

People often believe cranberries grow in water because of images like the one below. The image below shows what is called a cranberry bog.

A photo of cranberries during a wet harvest in a cranberry bog, begging the question - do cranberries grow in water?

There are two primary methods to harvest cranberries: dry harvesting, and wet harvesting. As you may have guessed, cranberry bogs are used during wet harvesting.

In wet harvesting, the fields where the cranberries grow are flushed with water, and a growers come through with machines to dislodge the berries from their vines. The machines are nicknamed “eggbeaters”.

Once the cranberries are dislodged, they rise to the surface of the water, are collected, and taken to be processed. Wet harvesting is very efficient, but it also damages the berries more than dry harvesting. 

For that reason, the cranberries which are intended to be sold fresh are harvested through dry harvesting, and the ones intended to be processed are collected through wet harvesting.

In dry harvesting, growers use a machine that looks like a big lawnmower to pick cranberries off the vine. 

More cranberry facts

There are many fascinating things about this tart and tasty berry! Here are some more cranberry facts for you to enjoy.

A clipart cranberry with cranberry facts written all around it illustrating the nutritional value of cranberries.

  • In 2003, Wisconsin made the cranberry their state fruit.
  • Throughout history, cranberries were believed to have medicinal properties. They were used by medicine men in poultices to draw poison from arrow wounds.
  • Historically, cranberry juice has been used to dye fabrics.
  • Native Americans made a recipe called Pemmican, which combined cranberries, dried meat (often venison) and fat. Today it would be very similar to a protein bar.
  • Cranberries were first successfully harvested in Dennis, Massachusetts in 1816 by a revolutionary war veteran named Captain Henry Hall.

Cranberry history

Marcus L. Urann was the first person to can cranberries in 1912. He was a lawyer who decided to become a cranberry grower. His idea to can cranberries revolutionized the cranberry industry!

Previously, cranberries had to be eaten very quickly after being picked. However, with the idea for canning, cranberries became accessible all year long!

A bowl of fresh cranberries with cranberry leaves in it and two cranberries beside it.

If you’ve ever bought cranberries you’re probably familiar with the brand Ocean Spray. This company was founded by Marcus L. Urann (the same one who first canned cranberries), Elizabeth Lee, and John Makepeace.

Ocean Spray is a farmer-owned cooperative, which gives all the profits back to it’s farmers. It is made up of over 700 growing families in North and South America.

Seven out of ten cranberries that are sold in the world today come from Ocean Spray.

Cranberry national days

If you’re a big fan of cranberries, you’ll be excited to know there are actually several national days of the year dedicated to cranberries.

A wooden container of dried cranberries next to a bunch of raw cranberries on a table, to illustrate the answer to the question "can you eat raw cranberries?".

National Cranberry Relish Day celebrates cranberry relish, which is a side dish made of all raw ingredients (not to be confused with cranberry sauce!). Learn more about the day and check out our 3 ingredient cranberry relish recipe!

There is also National Eat a Cranberry Day which falls only one day after National Cranberry Relish Day.

National days of the year are a fun way to celebrate odd and unusual foods, animals and items that you come into contact with. Be sure to check out my national day’s guide for more fun days to celebrate.

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Looking for more fact-based posts?

If you enjoyed learning these facts about cranberries, be sure to also check out these posts to learn more fun facts about some of your favorite things! 

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If you need to brush up on random history and fun facts for your next trivia night, you can always browse through our entire “fun facts” section!

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Jess author photoAbout the author

Since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jess has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She is a freelance writer, specializing in content related to fashion, food and drink and film industry topics. Find out more about Jess here.

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