Season’s Pickings: The Cranberries and Apples of Fall — Anecdotes

For the second year in a row, we’ve had a tough time finding a good spot for cranberries. We didn’t even get any at all last year!

This autumn, the search seemed rather fruitless (pardon the pun). We went to Theodore Fouriezos Wetlands Park in Sturgeon Falls, but nada! When we had called for information, we’d been told the cranberries were still white, so to give it another week or so.

Wild cranberries in wet moss.

But not finding anything at all when we did go, we called again, knowing the annual Cranberry Festival would soon be taking place. This time, we were told the marsh had only produced in one area this year, and it appears we’d gone in the wrong direction. Bummer!

So we tried again elsewhere, and then again in another place, seeking out more locations and always coming out with empty baskets.

Until we found some by chance. We weren’t even looking for cranberries, yet here they were — just asking to be picked! — growing low to the wet moss-covered ground, surrounded by a few stalks of wild cotton.

Finally!! We didn’t pick very many since we didn’t bring a basket…

Small basket of cranberries
Though we did put the few cranberries we picked in a basket once we got home…

Then came the ultimate experiment — dehydrating our cranberries! We’d never done it before, but we suspected that they would take the longest of all the fruits and berries we’d tried so far. They aren’t as juicy as raspberries, but their skins are really thick and tough.

It took about 24 hours! But, the berries barely shrunk, so we’ve got two small jars (smiley face).

It’s been a learning curve season, but hopefully next year we’ll have a better search plan and better luck, and maybe we’ll even pick enough cranberries to sell some. For now, I just can’t wait to try some in a batch of our homemade granola!

At this point, we’re thinking that we won’t go back to Theodore Fouriezos Wetlands Park for cranberries, though. We know it’s a good spot for many people, but obviously we’re not meant to pick there! Lol!

Finding local apples to pick is so much easier than finding cranberries, it's almost an afterthought. Marc picked them from the backyard at work this year, and we were given some by a colleague whose relatives have an apple orchard somewhere in the Newmarket area.

Two baskets of Ontario apples

An apple tree grows in our backyard, but we would need a ladder to get to them. If I remember to borrow one this week, perhaps we'll have more! Of course we can buy Ontario apples year-round, but why spend money when we don't have to? Especially on produce likely to be laden with all sorts of chemicals...

We've chosen to make apple sauce with some of the ones we've already got, but we've also dehydrated a batch and will be doing another.

So once again, we've got a shelf full of dehydrated fruits and berries to last us most of the year! Thank goodness for our Nesco American Harvest Dehydrator! As it turns out, we got more of some types of berries this year, and more of other kinds of berries last year. Nature makes it very hard to plan for the perfect amount...

Jar of dehydrated Ontario apples

In fact, since we picked most of our own vegetables (and froze quite a lot!) from my parents' garden again this year, we're really appreciating how very time-consuming it is to live more naturally.

Feeding ourselves has become our biggest task (I'd hate to call berry-picking a chore!) — what with helping out in the garden, harvesting wild or farmed fruits and veggies, freezing and dehydrating produce, and managing our time to get it all done. Oh, and let's not forget taking care of our laying hens — we also raise chickens for eggs.

But of all the daily tasks people routinely accomplish, tending to our food is our favourite one, even if it is more work. On the plus side, we spend far less on groceries (winky face). Most importantly, though, spending time cooking is more enjoyable, and now we admire the results as much as we relish them!