Jellied cranberry sauce is arguably one of many best issues to arrange on Thanksgiving. It slides onto the serving plate, retaining its cylindrical form — and even a number of the can grooves. Slice it alongside the rings and you’ve got good circles of tart jelly to serve alongside traditional American fixings.
Jellied cranberry sauce is “that very same product you rely on 12 months after 12 months,” mentioned Joan Driggs, a vice chairman at IRI, a advertising and marketing analysis firm. And this 12 months marks the one hundred and tenth birthday for the sauce, which was invented in 1912 by Marcus Urann, a Massachusetts farmer.
Lower than 20 years later, in 1930, Mr. Urann would set up the Ocean Spray cooperative with two different cranberry farmers: John Makepeace, additionally of Massachusetts, and Elizabeth Lee of New Jersey. Their canned jellied sauce turned out there nationwide in 1941, and their cooperative has now grown to be owned by 700 household farmers.
Final 12 months, Ocean Spray offered 75 million cans of jellied cranberry sauce, with the majority of gross sales — 85 p.c — occurring within the vacation season.
A few of that recognition may be attributed to youthful millennials and members of Era Z, who’re taking up Thanksgiving plans from their older kinfolk, Ms. Driggs mentioned. They’re additionally doubling or tripling up on the cans as they host different small Thanksgiving celebrations, like Friendsgivings, earlier than the precise meal.
The worth of the sauce is up about 21 p.c in comparison with a 12 months in the past, however there aren’t any provide chain considerations this 12 months, Ms. Driggs mentioned. The truth is, she mentioned, cranberry manufacturing has elevated by about 4 p.c as farmers throughout the nation put together a 12 months forward to reap about 15 billion plump, pink cranberries only for the canned jelly.
A Good Crimson Harvest
About 1,100 farms develop cranberries in america, and this 12 months, the crop is estimated to supply round 8.3 million barrels, or about 830 million kilos of cranberries, in line with Karen Cahill, the advertising and marketing director of the Cranberry Marketing Committee.
Many farms, just like the 300-acre Rezin Berries in Cranmoor, Wis., pictured above, are family-run. In operation for 76 years, the farm has despatched berries to Ocean Spray for the final 50, now offering about 1,000,000 kilos every year, a quantity that has grown all through the farm’s historical past with the cooperative, mentioned Lisa Rezin, an proprietor of the farm.
To develop an acre of cranberries, a farmer wants one other 5 to seven acres of help land, Ms. Rezin mentioned, only for the farm’s water reservoir system. Opposite to fashionable perception, the berries don’t develop in water, however slightly in a moist, well-drained atmosphere. These cranberry beds, additionally referred to as bogs, are flooded with water — about 18 to 30 inches — when the berries are able to be harvested in September and October.
“It’s about knee-deep,” Ms. Rezin mentioned. “It simply is dependent upon whose knees you’re measuring.”
When the mattress is flooded, totally grown cranberries, which have 4 air pockets in them, naturally rise to the highest. Farmers use hand rakes and tractors to detach the berries from their vines, whereas defending the cranberry buds for subsequent 12 months’s harvest. The harvested berries are then corralled into yellow containment booms, the identical kind used to comprise oil spills.
The ruby puddle of corralled berries will get smaller and smaller because it’s loaded onto a conveyor on the fringe of the cranberry mattress. The conveyor dumps the berries right into a truck, and farmers loosen any stragglers off their vines earlier than the truck heads to their cleansing facility.
On the cleansing facility, the berries transfer onto one other conveyor. There, they’re rinsed with water that goes again into the farm’s reservoir system to be used within the subsequent cranberry mattress, and no matter water is left over heads to different close by farms.
As soon as clear, the berries are off to Ocean Spray’s receiving facility in Babcock, Wis., one among a number of throughout eight states the place farmers drop off their cranberries. There, the cranberries are cleaned once more and frozen till they’re able to be processed.
Again on the farm in January, extra water is added to the flooded beds to freeze the cranberry vines and shield the buds from harsh Wisconsin winters. Each few years, farmers can even throw a few half-inch layer of sand over the ice. Because the ice melts throughout the spring, the sand settles across the vines, serving to promote new development and forestall fungi.
Canning Time on the Manufacturing facility
All through the day, frozen cranberries are transported from the receiving facility to Ocean Spray’s manufacturing facility, pictured right here in Kenosha, Wis., the place they’re inspected with a laser, to verify each meets the corporate’s specs for coloration and dimension.
The berries are despatched by a machine that removes their skins and seeds, producing a easy purée. A second purée is made with what the corporate calls presscake, different reserved skins and seeds from Ocean Spray’s different merchandise, which accommodates the pectin that provides the sauce its gelatinous texture. Corn syrup is blended in whereas making the purée. As soon as the mixtures are filtered and blended collectively, they’re despatched off to be packaged in cans.
Empty cans transfer down a conveyor, the place they’re inspected for defects and rinsed earlier than they journey to the filler, the gadget that fills the can. There, the new cranberry sauce is poured into the can, and a lid is added. Random cans are inspected to guarantee that they’ve been crammed to the correct top and that the sauce has the best texture. The sealed cans are then despatched to a rotary can cooler to relax.
The cans are coded, labeled, packed into instances, shrink-wrapped and put into pallets for cargo.
Eagle-eyed shoppers might observe that the labels are the other way up. That’s intentional: That positioning means the cans shall be introduced the other way up on retailer cabinets, making it simpler for that cylinder of sauce to wriggle its manner out of the can onto Thanksgiving platters, an extended journey that ends with a satisfying plop.