Thursday, November 26, 2020

Don't Forget the Cranberries!

An old-fashioned cranberry scoop. Today machines pump the berries from the bogs.

What is Thanksgiving dinner without cranberries? Some prefer the jellied form and others want the sauce made with whole berries. This traditional holiday condiment goes perfectly with the heavier foods enjoyed at the holidays. It is sweet and tart and sometimes a little spicey.

There are 100 varieties of cranberries, some of them heirloom varieties dating to the 1840's. The Ojibwa cultivated high-bush cranberries since the mid-17th century.

The red color of cranberries comes from pigments called anthocyanins.The range of red hues is due to the differing porportions of anthocyanins.

Cranberries have a high nutrient and antioxidant content. Research has linked the nutrients in cranberries to a lower risk of urinary tract infection, the prevention of some cancers, improved immune function, and decreased blood pressure.

It takes about 16 months for the cranberry to mature from a bud to a fruit ready to harvest. Most cranberries sold in the United States are grown in Wisconsin. Other states known for cranberry production include Massachusetts, New Jersey, and coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest.

Cranberries are grown in bogs which the growers sometimes flood to keep the leaves from drying out in the winter, and to make it easier to harvest. Once a bog is flooded, machines knock the berries into the water, and then harvesters don waders and corral the berries into an area where they can be pumped through a suction line and loaded on a truck.

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Saturday, November 7, 2020

Ice Age Plant Resurrected from Frozen Seeds

The oldest plant ever to be “resurrected” has been grown from 32,000-year-old seeds, beating the previous record holder of the Judean Palm by 30,000 years.

The narrow leafed perennial campion called Silene stenophylla is a small plant whose modern relatives are found in eastern Russia and northern Japan. This species that grows on stony cliffs or sandy shores. Once a year, it produces five-petalled flowers that range in color from white to pink to lilac.

A team of scientists from Russia, Hungary, and the United States recovered frozen Silene stenophylla seeds in 2007 while investigating about 70 ancient ground squirrel burrows or caches, hidden in permanently frozen deposits in northeastern Siberia.

The age of the seeds was estimated at between 20,000 and 40,000 years, dating the seeds to the Pleistocene epoch. More than 600,000 fruits and seeds thus preserved were located at the site.

Normally, the rodents would have eaten the food in their larders, but in this case a flood or some other weather event buried the area. The larders were at the level of the permafrost which resulted in the material freezing almost immediately. More than 600,000 fruits and seeds thus preserved were located at the site.

Years later, a team of scientists at the Russian Academy of Sciences successfully revived one of the plants: a flowering plant from a 32,000-year-old fruit!