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Where can you see the cranberry harvest in Canada?

Ripe cranberries
Ripe cranberries

Ever since I first saw the first cranberry fields twenty years ago, I wanted to watch how the bright red berries are harvested. From stories and photos, I knew that water mattered, and in some New England shots, cranberry farmers were shown shoving the cranberries together on flooded fields and finally loading them onto waiting trucks that took them should transport for further processing. Now, on my recent trip to Canada, I had the opportunity to visit the only cranberry farm in Ontario, and I did not have much to think about. I did not want to miss this opportunity to finally satisfy my curiosity. We put Johnston's Cranberry Marsh in Bala in the Muskoka region on our itinerary.

Ripe for the harvest
Ripe for the harvest

Johnston's Cranberry Marsh in Bala

The Johnston's Cranberry Farm is located just outside the small town of Bala in the beautiful Muskoka region, which is ideal for growing cranberries. This requires acidic peat soil and proximity to water, which is abundant there. The lakes seldom disappeared from view as we drove through Muskoka, and if at all, then only when we were crossing a small land bridge between two of them. Sometimes it was so narrow that the water was even on both sides of the street. The area is also known for its silted lakes. There dense reeds grow on the edge of shallow pools. This reed grass rots on the lake floor and fills it up slowly from below. This process is repeated until the entire lake disappears under a vegetative blanket, and a peat bog is created - ideal soil on which cranberries feel comfortable.

Harvester in Ontario
Harvester in Ontario

Cultivation and use of cranberries

The Johnston family of farmers from Bala recognized the potential and cleared several hectares of land on which they planted cranberries. At the same time, they created a network of channels that can be flooded via valves if necessary. The end of September - we were there on September 26th - is harvest time at the Cranberry Farm. And then you can watch what happens to the red berries. Guided tours are offered, and the farm shop sells freshly picked berries, as well as cranberry wine and various jams made from cranberries and other berries. Raw cranberries taste very bitter, so the wine and jams are combined with other fruits. Raw berries are suitable for juice production, as an ingredient for cakes or pastries and for sauces or must, whereby they are used as with us cranberries as an accompaniment to game meat.

Here the cranberries are dried
Here the cranberries are dried

Harvest of cranberries in Ontario

The harvest of cranberries in Ontario is different from what I knew from New England. The berries of Ontario are sometimes sold as raw fruits, unlike in the Cape Cod area, where they are mostly used for juicing. For this reason, the berries must be harvested more carefully than there, and so I came here for the expected pleasure of once seeing the farmers trudging through the bright red water. Although the fields are also flooded with water here, to ensure a careful harvest. Unlike in the south, however, a harvester is used here, which carefully picks the berries from the bushes and collects them in a container. They do not swim in the fields, as in the Cape Cod area, but are immediately collected. From the fields, the berries are transported to a scaffold, where they dry in the sun. Then they are sorted by size and color and packed according to their purpose. The uninjured and deep red berries are sold in the supermarkets of the area. Cracked berries and those that are ripe but have not yet developed their red color are used to make wine or for processing into chutneys, marmalades or sauces.

And my farmers in the flooded ponds full of red cranberries? For that I have to go to New England ...


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A visit to Johnston's Cranberry Farm is possible year-round: 1074 Cranberry Road, Bala, Ontario. P0C 1A0 Tel. 705-762-3203 Fax 705-762-3213.


Travel Arrangements:

Getting there

Lufthansa, Air Canada and several other airlines fly to Toronto.

Accommodation

Accommodation in Muskoka Region * You can book through our partner booking.com. We have stayed in Sir Sam's Inn Resort & Spa * in Haliburton.


Discover more travel tips for trips to savor on our blog TravelWorldOnline.

Source: own on-site research courtesy of Tourism Ontario and the Canada Tourism Commission

Text: © Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Video: © Copyright Petar Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline

Responses

  1. Monika Fox
    | Reply

    Unfortunately, we lacked the time, but I think that you can also try the products on request.

  2. myVideoMedia GmbH
    | Reply

    Interesting report, I hope you could also test many delicious cranberry products.

  3. claudiRTW
    | Reply

    So come on the big list of Canada. Still do not know where to go and how I fit that time: D the country is just too big for 1 travel!
    LG Claudi

    • Monika Fox
      | Reply

      Do it the best I do, Claudi: I've been traveling there for more than twenty years - at least once a year, sometimes even several times - and have still not seen everything :). This is a real life task ...

      The best way to find a region that is suitable for your travel time and limited to this, otherwise you come back frustrated, because you have not seen much. All at once is not possible anyway. Canada is just too big for that.

  4. claudiRTW
    | Reply

    Hey, that's a cool idea! Nice tip! I also want to harvest cranberries! Everybody can eat strawberries;) And cranberries belong to Canada like the maple syrup. Is not there synonymous manufacturers that you can look at the production / harvest over the shoulder?

    I'm hungry now!
    LG Claudi

    • Monika Fox
      | Reply

      Was really a nice experience. Above all, I learned there that you can even make wine from cranberries - but, as with jams, always mixed with other fruits, as cranberries are otherwise too bitter.

      We stayed at Johnston's Cranberry Marsh just north of Bala in the Muskoka region.

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