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Highbush Cranberries

The Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum), is more widely distributed than either the Common Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) or the Creeping Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos), also know as the Small Cranberry. The Highbush is found all across Canada and the extreme northern portions of New England (Maine) to Minnesota and through wide portions of Canada. It is a matted shrub with erect branches bearing large, tri-lobed leaves of deep forest green. The fruits appear in bunches on short stems at the tips of branches and are easily picked by humans and bears alike.

Highbush Cranberry

Highbush Cranberries are generally better tasting in the spring than the fall and considered by many to be inedible until cooked. The bears seem to think otherwise and begin eating them when the first signs of ripening are detected in Spetember or October. Despite the argument about their edibility, there is little disagreement that highbush cranberry wine is among the top contestants for the best of the non-grape wines. The recipe below assumes the cranberries will be picked in the spring and the wine marginally ready by Christmas. If begun in the fall instead, it will certainly be ready by Christmas the following year.


Wash three pounds of cranberries and sort for soundness. Put the water on to boil. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the cranberries and put in primary with minced or chopped golden raisins or sultanas. Pour sugar over fruit and boiling water over all. When cooled to room temperature, add pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient. Stir, cover with sterile cloth and set aside for 12 hours. Add yeast, recover and stir daily. After 14 days of fermentation, pour through nylon straining bag, squeeze to extract all juices, transfer to secondary, and fit airlock. Rack after 30 days, top up, refit airlock, and ferment to dryness. Rack into bottles and age at least 9 months before sampling. [Author's own recipe]

Last update was November 10th, 2000.

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