Our food editor went in deep with this assignment.
laura rege and farmer cranberry bog nj
Laura deep in cranberries and water with NJ cranberry grower Steve Lee IV.

A few weeks before Thanksgiving cranberry growers are hard at work on the annual harvest to ensure your feast is complete -- it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce. Cranberries are picked from mid-September to November, so I jumped on the opportunity to visit Steve Lee IV's 1,800 acre farm in New Jersey and see the unique beauty of the harvest.

Most people, including me until I visited the farm, think cranberries grow in water. Steve explained the berries actually grow on long running vines in sandy marshes or bogs and are flooded as part of the harvesting process. And though the harvest is short and we all tend to only think of cranberries around Thanksgiving, cranberry farmers are tending their vines year round.

Cranberries are one of three fruits, along with blueberries and concord grapes, that are native to North America. And yes despite their tart flavor, they really are berries. Most cranberries grown in the U.S. come from Wisconsin, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Washington. Steve's farm is located in Southern New Jersey, which has the best soil conditions in the state for harvesting. Lee Brothers Cranberry Farm has a long history with cranberries. Steve explains, "Our family has been working this land for seven generations. It is pretty special, it comes from the heart."

See Laura's Thanksgiving Menu


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