Like a few of my blogs that I have written in the past, I have forgotten to post them right away, making this one a little outdated but still a good experience to share.
Today was the first Sunday that I have had off in weeks! So Rob and I planned to get out and explore. I have had my heart set on going up north to visit a cranberry bog to pick fresh cranberries for Thanksgiving since Canadian Thanksgiving is next weekend. We talked about going here all week and relooked at the map and realized that all together it would be about 9 hours of driving to get a bag of cranberries. So we scratched that idea and I was a little bummed. Instead we took a drive to Bon Echo Provincial Park and drove along some very scenic roads. The trees were some gorgeous shades of red, orange, and yellow. Since most of the drive was through the Land O’ Lakes region, it provided for some amazing waterfront views.
Most of our day was spent hiking through Bon Echo, which is home to ancient Native American rock paintings. The unfortunate part was that we arrived without a canoe and most of them are only visible from a boat. We plan to come back here in the summer with a canoe and to camp at one of the portage sites.
Ok so the whole point of this blog is that on the drive back, we just drove in the direction of home but turned on a bunch of roads not on our map. We passed by this long driveway all surrounded by bush and there was a small “Open” sign in the drive. I asked Rob if he could turn around because I just had a feeling it was the entrance to something you can pick. We had no idea what it might be until we pulled in the drive and the small little handmade sign said.. .you guessed it.. cranberries! The feeling of a little kid in a candy shop quickly filled my boots. We pulled up the long windy dirt road and were greeted by a woman in flashy rubber boots. She guided us to a safe parking spot and handed us a bunch of bags. She showed us how to pick cranberries because we had never picked them before and quite honestly I didn’t even know how they grew.
Cranberries grow on a long vine like shrub that hugs the ground. They take over the entire area. The patches were not in neat little rows like many other berries that you might go and pick. You have to get down on your hands and knees to spot the little buggers hiding under all of the vines. Picking cranberries is very time consuming, but well worth it. We tried a few of the berries and boy were they sour, but good! We picked about 5 pounds of berries and were so shocked when she told us they were only $1 a pound. In the stores, these things are outrageous.
The owner told us that about 7 years ago the growers used to sell to Ocean Spray, but too many rules came into play so they got out of the deal. Now they just run the U-Pick operation and don’t even sell to Farmer’s Markets or anything. The locals are enough to keep the place in business. No pesticides are used, but like many farmers the cost of paying for organic licensing is outrageous so she can’t call them “organic.” So she advertises them as “just cranberries.”
This farm was such a good find and I know we are going to be back next year! What a nice little hidden secret off the beaten path. Now off to gather all of the recipes to make a blog about cranberries.
Since going to this farm, I have made cranberry sauce, eggless cheesecake with spiced cranberries, and apple cranberry crisp. They have all been tasty. Unfortunately my camera was not charged and our tummies could not wait for the battery to charge before these goodies were devoured.