Sunday, April 8, 2018

Today in our Garden #GardenCuizine #stormrecovery #NJ #gardenchat celebrating #nomorewetsnow

Fallen Garden for Wildlife post with sign and birdhouse after Winter Nor'easter
Today in Our Garden
South Jersey
USDA Zone 7a (formerly zone 6b)
The sound of chain saws still echo throughout our neighborhood. We've been dragging fallen tree limbs to the curb every chance we get. Yesterday was no exception. The recovery from the damaging NJ Winter Nor'easters will still take us some time. 

Piles of tree trunks and limbs can be seen in front of just about every house. The mounds are piled high and look like beaver damns!
Piles of white pine limbs throughout our hummingbird garden
Luckily, we didn't have any limbs fall on our house, so for that we feel blessed. 

During the last storm, at the exact time, both Harry and I watched the heavy weight of the wet snow slowly tip over our entrance arbor! Right before our eyes the metal completely bent and collapsed. In the video below you can see the arbor (at the beginning) full of wet snow before it went down. And, near the end of the video, you can hear the horrible cracking of the pines.
Harry cut apart the arbor's metal. And, I pruned away the vines leaving the roots and about 4 or 5 feet of stalks. A fragrant Jasmine and clematis were well established on that arbor. It was sad dragging away the chopped off remains to the curb. Now, it looks so bare. 

On a positive note, Harry may try to custom build us a replacement arbor. I found a plan online for one that he may use.
Meanwhile, Spring has sprung! Hyacinths are blooming, Daffodils are up, even the first dandelions are blooming. Lots of green growth can be seen on shrubs now.


Inside we have lots of coleus cuttings and veggie seedlings. We are growing salvias and heirloom tomatoes as usual. And, a few new things, including Rutabaga and Purple Peacock open-pollinated broccoli. What are you growing?

I'm not happy with the soil mix I'm using for the seedlings. The soils today all have moisture crystals added, which keeps the soil too moist for seedlings. If I don't water enough, the soil becomes the opposite extreme - dry and hard - and the seedlings die. 

Before these types of soil mixes, I never had this problem. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear what works best for you.

Over-wintered indoors:
Avocado * Bay Laurel * Coffee
Our Avocado tree is growing well in a large pot. It even bloomed this winter! Just one bloom and it didn't last, but none-the-less, it was exciting to see.

Potted next to the Avocado tree stands a tall bay leaf tree. Bay Laurel grows well in a pot and is one of my favorite kitchen garden plants.

A small coffee plant from a plant swap a few years ago will finally be transplanted soon. If only we had a greenhouse.

Stevia
We keep a pot of Stevia on our deck during the summer. At the end of the season I take the pot inside and let the seeds fall from the dead stems. The Stevia regrows right in the same pot every year. 

The new growth looks a bit straggly now, but will perk up and bloom in summer once we put the pot back outside when the weather warms.
Happy Spring and Happy Gardening!
Blog post, photos and video (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Nutrition Data - #Cabbage #GardenCuizine #NNM #NationalNutritionMonth @eatright @kidseatright

Nutrition Data - Cabbage
All your food and beverage choices matter! Go further with your food selections by eating foods that are nutrient-dense. Nutrient-dense foods provide superb nutrition. Eating a healthy diet helps maintain a healthy body weight and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. 

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, vegetable consumption is lowest among boys ages 9 to 13 years and girls ages 14 to 18 years. But, in all ages vegetable consumption is below recommendations. Vegetables contain many important nutrients. Cabbage provides many nutrients, including:  
  • Vitamin C for a healthy immune system. 
  • Folate, which is especially important during pregnancy to prevent birth defects. 
  • And, plant sterols that help keep cholesterol within normal limits.
Pediatricians are referring more and more children to dietitians because of abnormal lipids (fats) in the body. Common causes are either genetics, or even more often obesity - more than any other risk factor.*

Many adults and kids are deficient in adequate dietary fiber from plant foods. Dietary fiber is a nutrient to get more of. Soluble fiber in particular, has been shown to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol. Cabbage provides both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber and can easily be added to foods and snacks that your family will enjoy.

Check out my recipe for homemade sauerkraut (link below). What kind of cabbage is your favorite? What are your favorite ways to serve cabbage? 

GardenCuizine Nutrition Data Cabbage: 1 cup chopped (89 grams) - 22 calories, 0g fat, 2.2g dietary Fiber (9% DV), 33 mg Vitamin C (54% DV, WOW!), 68 mcg Vitamin K (86% DV), 38 mcg Folate (10% DV), 10 mg beneficial plant sterols

Excellent Source: Vitamin C, Vitamin K
Good Source:  Folate

*Reference:
EXPERT PANEL ON INTEGRATED GUIDELINES FOR CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH AND RISK REDUCTION IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS
 
Related Links 
What states grow the most Cabbage?
National Nutrition Month® St. Patrick's Day Party! 
Phyto (plant) sterols
Homemade Sauerkraut with probiotics! 
10 Ways to Cook Cabbage
Blog Post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved. Go Further with Food logo used with permission.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Happy National Nutrition Month® and Happy Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day! #eatrightNJ #RDchat #RDNday #NNM @rutgersalumni @eatright @kidseatright

March celebrates National Nutrition Month®
and Happy
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day!

We do have a day for everything, don't we? I wanted to share a Happy RDN Day with you today, especially since I'm a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics designated today, March 14th as National RDN day. 


One of the happiest days of my life was when I found out I was accepted to a dietetic internship at South Jersey Healthcare - now renamed, Inspira Health Network. 

I am grateful to all the dietitians who mentored me and who continue to inspire me. I am grateful to my nutrition and health teachers at Rutgers New Brunswick. They guided me on the competitive path to becoming a Registered Dietitian.

For me, this RDN day is in memory of Barbara Tangel, RDN who was an assistant teaching Professor and my advisor and mentor at Rutgers. She was the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) Director. She passed away Jan. 21, which made me so sad. I feel like so many important people in my life have died much too soon. She was only 67.

Our time on this earth is much too short. RIP Professor Tangel.

3 key messages about what RDNs do, featured on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website:

  • Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are food and nutrition experts who translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living.
  • Registered Dietitian Nutritionists use their nutrition expertise to help people make personalized, positive diet and lifestyle changes.
  • Registered Dietitian Nutritionists work throughout the community in hospitals, schools, public health clinics, nursing homes, fitness centers, food management, food industry, universities and in research and private practice.
Happy RDN Day! Happy NNM Month!
Many blessings for good health and happiness to you and your family!
Blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved. Go Further with Food logo used with permission.

Friday, March 9, 2018

@PhilaFlowerShow @PHSgardening Wonders of Water #gardening #gardens #flowershow #hereafter #water #Philly

"Windows on the Watershed" illuminates the ecological lessons and stories of freshwater system - The Delaware River Watershed
Philadelphia Flower Show
Wonders of Water

We enjoyed the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show presented by the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (PHS) "Wonders of Water."  We entered doors next to the main entrance, and walked towards an eye-catching exhibit funded by The William Penn Foundation.

"Windows on the Watershed" featured over 1,000, mostly blue, rods dramatically hanging down from the high, dark ceiling. The environmental art hanging sculpture was designed to resemble "Rain and the River" by artist Stacey Levy.

The Delaware River Watershed runs 330 miles. The waterways flow through 14,000 square miles through the Catskill mountains, wilderness, farmland, cities, and coastal plains. These ecosystems support many diverse plants and animals.

As we walked around the show we noticed PHS added photography stations for souvenir shots. Like everyone else, we usually take lots of photos of the plants, but pictures of us are few and far between so we had our picture taken!
Memories of the colorful, tropical gardens and waterfalls are comforting after the severe, whopper of a second Nor'easter storm Wednesday. The storm devastated and tore apart our trees and gardens and left us with 9 inches of snow!! But, that's another story...

Back to the Flower Show
People crowded the main "The Rain Forest" entrance area taking selfies and photos of the orchids and colorful tropical plants cascading from bamboo shelf-like structures and supports. Vibrant colored orchids and Bird of Paradise blooms cascaded out of arrangements along with mosses and ferns. And, yes, rain fell in the rain forest along with sprays of fine mist. The rain forest even included sounds of tropical birds.

Ground plantings included a lot of my favorite types of coleus and Escargot begonias. Common pink and orange annual blooms included New Guinea impatiens.

At only day 2 of the show, some of the taller palms appeared past their peak and dying. 

HunterHayes' Landscape Design's exhibit "Spring Thaw." featured a few plants that caught my attention that are now on my wish list, especially Rhododendron canescens 'Camilla's Blush' (Piedmont Azalea).
Piedmont Azalea - USDA hardiness zones 5,6,7,8 - full sun to part shade - 5 ft tall and wide
It was no surprise that this very fragrant native species is currently sold out at RareFind Nursery.
The fragrance was heavenly. Guaranteed that hummingbirds would love it too.
Crocus, Daffodils and blue Grape Hyacinths were definitely a preview of Spring!
"Blue Shadow" dwarf Fothergilla was another of my favorites at the Hunter Hayes exhibit. The compact shrubs grow 2 to 3 feet high and wide and produce abundant, fragrant bottle-brush greenish-white blooms. The plants are hardy to USDA zones 5 to 9.
Best of Show
This was one of the few pergolas that I noticed at the show. The tranquil landscape created by StoneyBank Nurseries of Glen Mills, PA won a PHS Gold Medal and PHS Flower Show Cup Best in Show awards. You can't see it in the photo, but the edge of the pergola featured a wall of water dripping into the "Water's Edge" surrounded by trees.
Another display we both really liked was WISH Unlimited's "Hereafter." by Christian Kanienberg. His exhibit won a PHS Bronze Medal. The design included plants growing around and in a salvaged sailboat and power boats. Kanienberg said his idea was reactionary to the flower show's theme of water. According to his info post card: "suffering is part of our preparation for the hereafter."

Can't see it all in one day
We missed the butterfly display again. And, besides the rain in the rain forest, we must have missed rain barrel information and collecting water from rooftops. It must have been there somewhere. With 10-acres to explore, it is impossible to see everything in one visit.

Our least favorite area this year was the shopping area in the back, only because there were so many vendors that had nothing to do with gardening. That said, those vendors had people browsing at their booths! I guess people like all that unrelated stuff.
Protea Love
The Warka Tower displayed Protea, an unusual flower favorite. The exotic flowers represent change and hope. They grow in Australia, Hawaii and South Africa and some are grown commercially in California. A variety of different types of Protea blooms were also featured in the main entrance exhibit.
Most Educational
Among the most important educational displays were the water-themed exhibits by the American Institute of Floral Designers, "The World's Drinking Water." We learned about US pipe deterioration, the Flint Michigan water crisis and the critical water status of other countries, such as Africa, India and Pakistan. 

India has the highest number of people living rurally without access to clean water.

Pakistan is at risk for running out of water in less than 10-years, by 2025. Their water now is considered 80% unsafe, which is a tremendous shift since 1947 when their water was plentiful. It was troubling to learn that over 200,000 children in Pakistan under the age of 5 die every year from water-borne diseases.

The fact that as many as 63 million people in the US have been exposed to potentially unsafe water more than once over the past 10-years, gave us greater appreciation and desire to protect and conserve our precious water resources.

Happy Gardening!

Related Links
National Geographic Rain Forests
NJ Watersheds

Blog post and photos Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Garden Snail #PhotographyisArt #Photography #GardenGem #Gardenchat #WindPhotography

Garden Gem

Check out my latest artistic photograph on Fine Art America! And, just fyi, Harry and I have been doing a few small photography events too. Contact us if you are interested. At this time we are limited to photo sessions in South Jersey only.

This beautiful, little snail was spotted last summer on a red canna we had growing in a pot at the base of our backyard deck. Alongside the canna we also grew orange Coronado Hyssop from seed. Rufus hummingbirds love both plants.

I save our canna tubers every year and also save lots of seeds that include Coronado Hyssop. We're counting down to the Philadelphia Flower Show and seed starting time; both are coming soon!

Photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved. 


Related Links
Wind Photography - Diana Wind Phone APP
Wind Photography- Harry Wind Phone APP

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Another easy-to-make Probiotic recipe! Kimchi #GardenCuizine #guthealth #functionalfoods

Napa Cabbage
Chinese Cabbage
Kimchi

Napa Cabbage Nutrition Data

Excellent Source: Vitamins A and C

Napa Cabbage stars as the main ingredient in Probiotic-rich Kimchi. Kimchi is a fermented Korean food that is traditionally served with rice. We started a mason jar full of homemade Kimchi yesterday! 


Making Kimchi is as easy as making sauerkraut. We made both at my cooking class: "A Gut Feeling for a Healthy New Year", which was held at Inspira Health Network. I adjusted the recipe slightly since then, adding more scallion and daikon. See below.

Ingredients
1 medium head Napa Cabbage (about 2.5 lbs)

2 Tablespoons sea salt (non-iodized)
2 cups Daikon radish sliced in matchsticks

4 scallions, chopped
1 Tblsp minced fresh Garlic
1 Tblsp minced fresh Ginger
1/2 teaspoon (or more) ground hot peppers (dried from your garden!)

1-2 Tblsp Fish sauce (optional)
Note: be creative! Try adding other vegetables, such as shredded carrots and/or sweet red peppers, which is common in store-bought versions. This will turn the color orange-red.

Putting it all together
  • Rinse the cabbage. Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters and remove the core from each piece. Cut each quarter crosswise into bite size pieces. Add to large mixing bowl with everything except the daikon and scallions. 
  • Wearing food handling plastic gloves, massage the salt into the cabbage. This will begin to release water from the cabbage. 
  • Toss in the daikon and scallion. Combine well. Place into clean mason jar(s). Press down using tongs or spoon. Cover and set aside to ferment. We plan to let ours ferment for a few weeks before starting to eat it.
  • The ideal room temperature to help with fermentation is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is colder, the fermentation takes longer. Check the Kimchi daily to allow natural gases to escape. Push down the top layer with a spoon to keep the vegetables covered in brine.
  • Kimchi can be eaten anytime. Longer fermentation time allows for more probiotics. When you are pleased with the results, store in refrigerator. Kimchi will keep for months. Enjoy!
Blog post and photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Just two ingredients to make-your-own Probiotic Sauerkraut #GardenCuizine #guthealth #probiotics

Probiotic Sauerkraut

The joy in preparing for my probiotic foods cooking class was introducing myself and the participants to homemade and store-bought fermented foods with live-cultures. Being new to fermentation myself, I ordered a few educational, how-to-ferment, cook books by James Beard Award-winning and NY Times bestselling author Sandor Ellix Katz. He is considered "The Johnny Appleseed of Fermentation" by Michael Pollan. Katz says in his book, Wild Fermentation, that for him, it all started with sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut is a good place to start for making food with probiotics. Our first batch of sauerkraut is fermenting now. We used the dry-salt method and did not add any water. When enjoying probiotic kraut in meals it is important to remember to eat it at room temperature or not to heat it too high or the beneficial live probiotic microorganisms will die.

Clean your Jars or Crock
To start your adventure in fermented food preparation, first decide what containers you would use. We washed out a few Mason canning jars that we had in our basement. We use them in jelly making and preserving our Jersey tomatoes - now they have yet another purpose - sauerkraut! 

You can readily find Mason jars at grocery markets and stores like Walmart and Target. Our next batch of kraut is going in our crock pot, for an even larger batch!

Only Two (2) Ingredients
Ferment time: 3 to 4 weeks or more (of course you could nibble sooner too) - taste and you decide! Fermentation for at least 9 days yields a more diverse group of microorganisms.
  1. 1 head Green Cabbage  (note the weight)
  2. non-iodized course sea salt- 1 Tablespoon per 2 lbs. (2% salt)
Method
  • Rinse cabbage; discard any dirty, bruised leaves and core and shred the cabbage like you would for Coleslaw. 
  • Add cabbage to large bowl and sprinkle top with salt. Squeeze and massage salt into shredded cabbage until you start to notice sweating and moistening of the cabbage. This indicates that cell walls are breaking and water within the veggie can seep out. 
  • Stuff the cabbage loosely into clean jars. Then firmly tamp down using tongs or a wooden spoon. Cover and let nature do the rest!
  • Check your kraut daily and open the lid to allow any natural gas to escape. Tamp down each time to press down the top cabbage pieces into the brine.
  • For best results temperature should be between 68°F and 75°F
Congratulations! You've just completed Sauerkraut Fermentation 101. In your next batch try using other types of veggies. In his book, Sandor Katz suggests radishes, turnips, carrots, beets, garlic, greens, peppers and other veggies. Other options include: caraway seeds, turmeric, ginger or whatever else you can imagine.

People use many different methods to weigh down the top layer of cabbage to keep it under the brine. We didn't do anything. When we try a larger batch in a crock, I may use a stainless steel pot lid to press down the top.

There are several strains of desirable lactic acid bacteria that will develop and preserve your sauerkraut by lowering the pH. This type of bacteria are anaerobic so it won't matter if you want to cover your kraut with an airtight lid. Just remember to allow the natural gas that forms to escape daily.

We used a huge 4 lb. head of store-bought cabbage. Sliced it and added 2 T of salt. After massaging in the salt I took a taste. It tasted too salty. After one week I took another taste and it was so much better; still crunchy, but had the familiar flavor of sauerkraut. Success!

Trouble Shooting
What if Brine Does Not Cover Top of Cabbage?
As you can see from my photo above, our brine is not covering the top layer of cabbage in the first week. I'm thinking that the green cabbage that we used may not have had as much water in it's cell walls like homegrown, fresher cabbage probably would have. If that happens to your kraut too, an option would be to make a small amount of brine (non-iodized sea salt and water) and add it to the jars. 
Update 1/26/18: We waited three weeks before making and adding brine and by the third week, enough natural brine developed so we did not add any.
References and Related Links
Katz S., Wild Fermentation, Chelsea Green Publishing 2016

Plengvidhya V, Breidt F., Lu Z. et al, Applied Environmental Microbiology. DNA Fingerprinting of Lactic Acid Bacteria; 2007 Dec; 73(23): 7697–7702. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2168044/


Recommendations for Safe Production of Fermented Vegetables
Blog post and photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Prebiotics and Probiotics #GardenCuizine #probiotics #guthealth

Prebiotics and Probiotics

In recent years there has been a surge of interest in Gut Health and Gut Microbiota. As a Clinical Outpatient Registered Dietitian I provide nutrition counseling for patients battling or wanting to prevent diseases that include: Obesity, Insulin Resistance, Diabetes, Dyslipidemia, Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS). Scientific research is ongoing and showing promise for all ages across the lifespan - infants, children and adults - including Individuals with these diseases (and other conditions) for health benefits from Pre- and Probiotics.


In October 2013, an expert panel was formed by the International Scientific Association for Prebiotics and Probiotics (ISAPP) to further discuss and study the emerging science of how they benefit human health.

Recently, I taught a Cooking Class at Inspira Health Network on this very topic. I had more people sign up than I expected! Most participants had heard of probiotics; more so than prebiotics. Below is a brief RD chat on the subject. Recipes will follow.

Prebiotics
Prebiotics are non-digestible dietary fibers that feed Probiotics. Prebiotics are usually found in plant foods; but, did you know that there are a number of prebiotics in human milk too? Yet, another reason making breastfeeding superior nourishment for babies. Prebiotics enhance calcium absorption and help in the relief of constipation and diarrhea. 

Prebiotic foods include: whole grains, onions, bananas, garlic, honey, leeks, asparagus, cabbage, soybeans, dandelion greens, artichokes, chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, bran and of course Prebiotic fortified foods and Prebiotic dietary supplements.

Probiotics
Probiotics are microorganisms that when ingested have a positive benefit on our health; especially digestive health and immune system. Foods and beverages that offer probiotics must contain live cultures as found in Macrobiotic, Vegan products, such as: miso, tempeh, soy sauce and fermented soybeans called natto. 

Other, more common probiotic foods include: fermented vegetables, such as: sauerkraut, pickles; aged cheeses, yogurt (with live active cultures), kefir and kombucha tea. Other functional foods include products such as Siggi's Filmjölk, a Swedish drinkable yogurt, and Special K Nourish cereal with added probiotics.
  • It is important to note that some yogurts and most store sold sauerkraut and pickles are heat treated at high temperature, which kills probiotic cultures. 
  • Fermented dairy products are often better tolerated by individuals who are lactose intolerant because the good bacteria metabolizes the lactose into lactic acid. The result is a creamy buttermilk-like flavor. 
  • Yeast-risen breads, Coffee, some teas and Chocolate have fermentation involved in their production. However, they are not considered probiotic foods since the cultures are not living when consumed.
Read Labels
Carefully reading product labels helps in selecting foods containing beneficial pre- and probiotics. Look for the freshness date and the name of the microorganisms. Look for the National Yogurt Associations "Live and Active Culture" seal on yogurts with probiotics. 

Probiotics work by colonizing and crowding out the bad potential pathogens, replacing the bad bacteria with good bacteria; breaking down toxins in the gut. Probiotics play an important role in digesting proteins. They produce anti-microbial substances along with needed B vitamins and Vitamin K.

Low Sodium Diet Helpful
Gut microbiota is sensitive to a high sodium diet. To improve immune dysfunction, hypertension and autoimmune diseases a low sodium diet may be helpful to gut lactobacilli. Limiting added salt at the table and cooking more at home is the best way to control dietary sodium. Sodium is high in most prepared foods eaten out in restaurants. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends keeping dietary sodium under 2,300 mg per day.

Check with your Doctor if you have unwanted symptoms or medical conditions. Blog post and photo Copyright (C) Diana Wind. All rights reserved.

References:

  1. Younis K, Ahmad S, Jahan K (2015) Health Benefits and Application of Prebiotics in Foods. J Food Process Technology 6:433. doi: 10.4172/2157-7110.1000433
  2. Mozaffarian, D., Hao, T., Rimm, E. B., Willett, W. C. & Hu, F. B. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N. Engl. J. Med. 364, 2392–2404 (2011). 
  3. Gibson GR. Dietary Modulation of the Human Gut Microflora Using the Prebiotics Oligofructose and Inulin. Am Socity Nutr Sci. 1999;129:1438S-1441S.
  4. American Nutrition Assoc. Nutrition Digest. Vol 38 No.2 Assessed 1/13/17 http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/science-probiotics
Related Links
Consumer Reports Top 5 Probiotics of 2017
Prebiotics and Probiotics, Creating a Healthier You
Live and Active Cultures Yogurt Facts
The Microbiology of Chocolate 
What dose is recommended? Is more better? 
Do Probiotics Work?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Farm-to-Table Cranberry Farming video #GardenCuizine #cranberrybogs #cranberries @pinesadventures @pinesalliance

New Jersey
Farm-to-Table
Cranberry Farming
Video

As you know from my previous blog post, we recently explored a NJ cranberry bog with Pinelands Adventures. Harry and I toured just a small portion of Quoexin Cranberry Company's 1,000 acre farm. You may enjoy this video by SavetheSource.org, which features the fourth-generation cranberry farm owner, Tom Gerber, talking about his background and historic family farm. 


Farmer Gerber is dedicated to growing cranberries and educating people about the importance of agriculture and water preservation in the NJ Pinelands.
Blog post Copyright (C) Wind. All rights reserved. Video by SavetheSource.org.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Hand picked our first Jersey Cranberries! #gardenchat @PinesAdventures #GardenCuizine @JerseyFreshNJDA @USCranberries

Vaccinium macrocarpon
Harvesting
Jersey Cranberries!
High in Vitamin C and dietary Fiber
New Jersey ranks in the top 5 in the nation of Cranberry producers. Wisconsin and home of Ocean Spray in Massachusetts are also top producers. October always features tours for Cranberry Farms during harvest season. We finally got a chance to attend one yesterday! We drove to New Jersey's Pinelands where cranberries (and blueberries) grow and thrive.
Dry Harvesting at Quoexin Cranberry Co. in NJ 10/28/17
The sandy soil, pH and water in New Jersey's Pinelands is perfect for growing cranberries. Here is my recap of our fantastic tour hosted by Pinelands Adventures to one of the oldest independent cranberry growers in NJ: Quoexin Cranberry Company located in Medford, NJ - owned by Tom and Christine Gerber. 

As supporting members of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance we received a discount on the cost to attend, which was an added bonus.  

Quoexin Cranberry Farm features 50 beautiful acres of pinelands and cranberry bogs. "The cranberries color up late September," according to our tour guide Rob Ferber, Director of Pineland Adventures
Both cranberries and blueberries have a long history of cultivation in the Jersey Pines. Quoexin farm operated their first bogs as far back as 1835-1840.

I always thought cranberries grew in water. This trip taught me that cranberries actually grow on short vines in soil. Flooded bogs with red berries floating on the top are examples of wet harvesting. The wet harvesting method is used for the bulk of Jersey cranberry harvesting. The bogs are flooded with water and cranberries float to the top to be scooped.

Farmers who sell cranberries as fresh fruit use a dry vs. wet method of cranberry harvesting. Bogs are not flooded with water. Instead, they are raked out of the cranberry vines with special equipment that look like lawn mowers.
Quoexin Farm uses self-propelled Western Dry Picker equipment that has a burlap bag in the back to catches the cranberries as they get pulled off the weedy vines. 
Quoexin Farm owner Tom Gerber looking over a fresh Cranberry Harvest
As the bags are collected they are dumped into large holding bins before going to the packing house for sorting.
We were able to get up close to the cranberry bog edge. Once up close, we could see the red berries all over the low growing vines. This was the first time I ever picked cranberries! The raw cranberry's tasted good and not as tart as I expected.
 
Cultivars of cranberries include:
  • Howe (discovered 1843 in East Dennis, MA)
  • Champion
  • Early Blacks (discovered 1852 in Harwich, MA)
  • Jerseys
  • Wisconsin Gray Leski #1
  • Stephens - (discovered 1940 in Whitesbog, NJ)
  • Ben Lear
The Jersey Pinelands sits atop the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer, a water source with 17 trillion vital gallons of water.
After the tour, for dinner we used some of the fresh cranberries in a dish called Ruby Chicken. We will make it again! It combines cranberries with flavors of orange, cinnamon and ginger.

This trip reminded us not to wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy fresh cranberries. We plan to keep enjoying them in recipes and will look for Top Crop brand, which is the label to support this local NJ farmer.

We really enjoyed visiting Quoexin Cranberry Farms beautiful property. Thanks to Tom Gerber and family and Rob and to all involved. We look forward to more outdoor adventures and learning more about our states precious resources, environment, history and where our foods come from.

I planted a few sprigs of fresh cranberry vines in one of our raised beds. It isn't very sandy and is certainly not a bog. But, we'll see... today is raining and maybe some will take root and we can have the thrill of picking a handful of our own cranberries in the New Year!

Nutrition Data Cranberries
Excellent Source: Vitamin C, dietary Fiber
1 cup chopped (110 grams) = 51 calories, 15 mg (24% DV) Vitamin C; dietary Fiber 5.1g (20% DV); Vitamin E 1.3mg (7% DV) and other nutrients. 
Cranberries also contain proanthocyanidins that can enhance gut microbiota. Cranberries have bioactive catabolites that have been found to contribute to mechanisms affecting bacterial adhesion, coaggregation, and biofilm formation that may underlie potential clinical benefits on gastrointestinal and urinary tract infections, as well as on systemic anti-inflammatory actions mediated via the gut microbiome.*
http://advances.nutrition.org/content/7/4/759S.full 
 
Related Links
SavetheSource.org

7 Things You Didn't Know About Cranberries 
Health Benefits of Cranberries
The Cranberry Story 
Blog post and photos Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.