Monday, October 15, 2018

Wild Cranberry Turnovers

Wild cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) can be found in a few places in Connecticut, but are far more common in the dunes along Cape Cod. On our visit there a few weekends ago, we packed our wild blueberry rake and a bucket to collect a gallon or so to bring home for our freezer and for some fresh cranberry sauce and other treats. They are the same berry found in the grocery store around Thanksgiving, with some imperfections and lots of size and color variation, but found for free out in the wild. They are a small trailing sub-shrub, interconnected underground. The leaves seem comically small in relation to the berries, but cranberries are mostly hollow and light with a few, small scattered seeds inside. They readily float in water and can be cleaned and the bad ones and debris like twigs and leaves are picked away easily using a big bowl and a few changes of clean water.

This time I made some mini turnovers with apples from the local orchard and the wild cranberries, the filling gently simmered together with a touch of sugar and apple cider. The cranberries gel into a thick sauce when cooled, and I spooned the mixture onto puff pastry squares and sealed them with egg wash, and baked them until puffed and crispy. They were tart and very tasty for breakfast!

Here you can see the cranberries cut in half and how they are mostly hollow

To collect wild cranberries or wild blueberries in large quantities in a shorter amount of time, we use a huckleberry rake we purchased from a gentleman in Maine. He makes them from aluminum and it is quite light and rust resistant. The tines allow the berries to be popped right off into the holding reservoir and leave behind the branches and leaves without damaging them. We have had the rake for several years and can recommend it heartily.

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