The juice obtained out of cranberry, a fruit of evergreen shrubs, is said to be a great enhancer to the human health. It is said to give relief from infections occurring in the urinary tract, respiratory disorders, stones in kidney, cancer and cardiac diseases. It also cures the disorders of the stomach, controls blood sugar and is said to cure various gum diseases occurring due to tooth infections. In other words we could say that this is a complete package of medicines under the covering of a single berry; the cranberry.
The name of the berry is derived from the word ‘craneberry’, given to it by European settlers in America, who obliged it by this title because they felt that each part of this shrub resembles the shape of the crane bird. It is also called mossberry or fenberry. This beery has its plantations centered in American regions, especially Massachusetts and Canada. The British Columbian Fraser river valley is said to produce about 95% of the total Canadian cultivation with an estimated volume of 17 million kilograms approximately. Formerly cranberries were cultivated in wetlands, but now they are done in upland areas of shallow water tables.
Cranberries grow in low creeping shrubs or vines that cover an area of 2 meters and a height of 5 to 20 centimeters. They have thin stems and evergreen leaves. The fruit, cranberry is initially white in color but turns deep red when ripe. The fruit when ripe is edible, but could be a non-conventional consumable owing to its acidic nature. Since the beginning of 21st century, raw cranberries are said to be marketed as a super food due to the amount of nutrients and antioxidants it is said to contain.
Cranberries are said to exist in three categories. They are:
- Vaccinium oxycoccos: It is a common cranberry, spread entirely over the temperate areas of northern hemisphere including Northern areas of Asia, Europe and America. The flowers of this species are dark pink in color and the berry shows a pale pink tint with a refreshing sharp and acidic flavor.
- Vaccinium microcarpum: It is grown in Northern regions of America, Asia and Europe. It only differs from Vaccinium oxycoccos in the structure of its leaves which are more triangular.
- Vaccinium macrocarpon: It is limited to the north of Northern America and Canadian regions as far as its cultivation is concerned. Its berries tastes more or less like an apple and the leaves are about 10 to 20 mm in length.
These cranberries are harvested from the plants when they are mature enough and take a distinct deep red color, usually in the months of September and November. The berries are generally wet picked by flooding the area with water, about 6 to 8 inches deep. The fruits after being harvested are to be marketed fresh; therefore they are stored in shallow boxes that have holes in the bottom. These are then made available in the worldwide markets and are ready for the process of extraction of cranberry juice.