Have you ever wondered what goes into bringing the magic of cranberries to your holiday table? John Stauner of James Lake Farms and Ray Hableman of Hableman Brothers bring you fresh, ripe, delicious cranberries year after year under the Naturipe brand.
John Stauner has been in the cranberry industry for over 35 years and owns two cranberry marshes in northern Wisconsin. After working in corporate management for 20 years, John’s company was broken up in 2006, giving him the opportunity to purchase his marsh and convert it into an organic production. They later bought a neighboring marsh, tripling their acreage and farming capacity for cranberries.
Contrary to popular belief, cranberries don’t actually grow in water. Cranberries actually grow in very acidic soil, usually peat or sand based, and are filled with air which makes them naturally buoyant. This buoyancy is what allows farmers to flood the cranberry beds so the berries float right to the top of their vines, making it easy to pick them.
The cranberry growing process is quite lengthy, too, considering this fruit is really one of the only true seasonal items in produce. Starting in August when the bud of the cranberry is formed, farmers flood cranberry beds with water so a layer of ice is created during winter. This takes care of the bud until spring when the ice melts, soil temperature rises and a two to three inch vine is formed, which is what the cranberries are grown on. Coming full circle over a year later in September, cranberries produce their beautiful red color and harvesting begins. Talk about a lot of work and passion dedicated to these brilliant little berries!
John’s production is 100% certified USDA organic, a process that takes over 36 months to complete. Giving up two harvests that are technically organic, but not certified yet, John was adamant about turning his farms organic not just for the niche market they’re in, but because he wanted to take care of his crops and land in a way that lets future generations have the same resources.
Ray Hableman of Hableman Brothers, the world’s largest, fresh cranberry grower, has cranberry farming in his blood. His great grandfather started their farm in 1907, originally only 13 acres and now spanning across three separate cranberry marshes totalling 700 acres today. Hableman’s cranberries are grown conventionally and packed with antioxidants. Did you know cranberries have antibacterial properties, can help fight UTIs, support gum and gut health, and have a slew of other health benefits that support our bodies from top to bottom?
Hableman is just as passionate about caring for the land his cranberries grow on as the fruit itself. Growing up on a cranberry farm has given him an ingrained goal of leaving the land a better place than how it was started. Ray and his team make sure to take care of the weeds, have bird and duck houses on the property, pollinator gardens and clean the ponds regularly to help the land thrive. All of his foremans go through nutrient management training so they know exactly what to use and when, and they do everything they can to fight bugs naturally, only using spray when necessary.
“This is truly a year round labor of love every single day.” – Lori Taylor (28:59-29:04)
There are so many wonderful ways to enjoy cranberries. John Staumer is a fan of mixing their tart flavor with horseradish, a combination that works great with meats. Ray Hableman loves making a delicious jelly sauce, adding them into stir fry’s, and putting them in baked goods like muffins, cakes or cookies. Lori’s a self-proclaimed traditionalist with her cranberries, having many fond memories of listening to cranberries pop on the stove during the holidays.
Enjoy your own favorite, classic recipes or try some new twists from the Cranberries Reimagined! Unlocking the Year-Round Secrets of the Other Red Berry Cookbook on the Naturipe website.
How to get involved
- Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week!
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