Fall Cranberry Harvest: Nantucket’s Most Delicious Season

It's cranberry season!

As the days get shorter and the night gets nippier, there is one berry we still can’t get enough of: the cranberry. On Nantucket, a tiny island off the coast of Cape Cod, millions of cranberries are harvested every fall.  While Nantucket might be known best for its busy summer beach season, the fall is our favorite time of year on Nantucket.

That’s when the tourists disperse, and the bushes (or “moors,” to the locals) that blanket the island turn shades of autumnal brown and red.

Nantucket Autumn Folliage

Nantucket in the fall is full of reds and browns.

And, that’s when the local cranberries are ready for harvesting.

Nantucket Cranberry Harvest

The sun reflects off the bogs, full of cranberries just off the vine.

Every autumn since 1857, cranberries have been harvested on Nantucket. Though technological innovations have modernized and streamlined the process, cranberries are still grown in shallow bush-filled ditches called bogs, which are flooded with water. When the berries are pump and red, a machine called a water reel agitates the water, forcing the naturally buoyant cranberries to detach from their vines and float to the surface for harvesting.

Local cranberry farmers gather the cranberries and scoop them into the truck for processing.

Once harvested, cranberries can be used in countless culinary applications. Chef Erin Zircher, acclaimed Chef at The Boarding House on Federal Street, is known for her ability to highlight the intrinsic qualities of fresh island-grown ingredients, and her treatment of the cranberry is no exception.

Fortunately for us (and you!), Chef Zircher shared some of her favorite cranberry dishes with us — using local Nantucket cranberries, of course — including this stunning Warm Farro Salad With Butternut Squash and Spiced Cranberry Vinaigrette.

Feta cheese gives this colorful, fall salad a salty bite.

If you find yourself in the Northeast and are craving a taste of autumn, hop on a puddle-jumper or board the ferry and take a trip over to Nantucket to sample the local cranberry crop. Otherwise, swing by your local market and pick up a bag of cranberries (or three, since they freeze beautifully) and give one of these delicious cranberry recipes a try, perfect for your Thanksgiving spread:

More cranberry recipes from Cooking Channel:

Craving more cranberries? Visit the Nantucket Conservation Foundations’s Cranberry Page.