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  • From: "Jim Fruth" <>
  • To: "NAFEX" <>
  • Subject: [NAFEX] Highbush Cranberry question
  • Date: Tue, 1 Mar 2011 10:34:48 -0600

Craig from Chicago asked, "How do you prepare highbush cranberries? I tried this past fall and they smelled like a high school gym locker. The taste was rather fruity but it was hard getting over the smell. Do you use them as an additive to other fruit?"

There is a secret to making Highbush Cranberry Jelly and not have it smell like dirty socks. Don't follow the recipe! It was quite by accident that I discovered that the smell is a by-product of boiling the fruit. When I make syrup, there is no need to heat the fruit hotter than 200 degrees. It only needs be heated to 190 to get the sugar dissolved. Boiling fruit removes some of the flavor which testifies to the claim that my syrups and jellies taste better than most. And, in the case of Highbush Cranberry, no bad smell.
So how do I get my jellies to gel without following the recipe? Do I have to divulge all of my secrets?
There is one more problem concerning Highbush Cranberry; there is a look-alike plant that produces HORRIBLE tasting berries. Some years ago the European Highbush Cranberry, Viburnum opulus (The American plant is V. trilobum), was introduced to the Landscaping Industry. The two Viburnums are almost identical except that the European variety is a semi-dwarf whereas V. trilobum grows to twenty feet high. People buy V. opulus thinking they have a short Highbush Cranberry only to discover that the fruit is so bitter that birds won't eat it. I once chewed on some of the berries and it took a half day to bet the bitterness out of my mouth - it is so bitter that no amount of sugar can alter the taste.

Jim Fruth
Brambleberry Fruit Farm
4002 Davis Street
Pequot Lakes, MN 56472
1-218-831-7018 (My Cell)

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