An Update on Cranberries, Grounded by the Farm, Episode 325 Transcript

November 2, 2022

This transcript accompanies our remastered & updated episode talking about life alongside a cranberry marsh with cranberry farmer Amber Bristow. This update follows the remastered episode from 2020, was a favorite from our holiday foods series.



cranberries, harvest, fruit, people, year, water, vines, cranberry juice, growers, ocean spray, tractor, crop, fresh fruit, freeze, craisins, berry, add, instagram, blueberries, bit


Grounded by the Farm, Janice Person, Amber Bristow

Grounded by the Farm  00:03

Food is more than just what’s on our plate. It’s the places where it’s grown. It’s the people who grow it and so much more. Join me, Janice person, your host on grounded by the farm



every other week


Grounded by the Farm  00:14

as we talk about the foods we love. In this updated episode for the holidays, we’re talking to cranberry farmer Amber Bristow. She is a longtime favorite here, such a great conversationalist and breaks things down about cranberry farming in a way that it leaves me amazed each time I talked to her. So this redo, we have the first episode that we recorded with her with some minor modifications. Later in this episode, you will find caught up with her on what’s happened in the two years since she and I talked the first time love that we get to talk about how cranberry juice what really big, how she’s got a new farmhand at the house and the family how ecology on the farm is working and some of the kinds of wildlife they have. Which fits right into a lesson plan that we’ve created. It’s available on TPT for teachers to use with students, we did talk about a few products that she’s found in the cranberry space. I’m going to put those links everything else on grounded by the Let’s go ahead and get started. I was so excited to find Amber on Instagram. There aren’t very many cranberry farmers are there. No, there’s not. You guys are a an elite bunch. I think Amber,


Amber Bristow  01:35

we’re a unique brand.


Grounded by the Farm  01:36

All right. I’m gonna suggest there aren’t a lot of cranberry farmers out there. So can you tell me sort of how many farmers there are like you? And you’re one of the only ones on Instagram, I assume. But where do we find cranberry farmers.


Amber Bristow  01:52

Most of the cranberry growers are found in Wisconsin, we produce over half of the world’s supply of cranberries, which is humblebrag. I’m not exactly sure the total number of growers in the state. But there’s quite a few other top producing states are out in Massachusetts. They’re second in line and kind of out east in that area in Massachusetts, New Jersey, also in Washington State. And then there’s a few growers up in Canada. And actually recently down in Chile. There’s a few growers that are popping up down there too. So mostly Wisconsin is a Top Producing state. Well, we’ll just leave it at that.


Grounded by the Farm  02:28

I love it cheese heads and cranberries. That’s what Wisconsin has going for it. Yes. I’ve always thought of cranberries is inextricably American foods. And I remember going to Italy Gosh, a million years ago, it seems for a friend’s to visit them at Thanksgiving. And they had Mabry and cranberries and cranberry sauce. Is it really like an American native plant or something?


Amber Bristow  02:54

Yeah, so cranberries are one of the I think four native fruits to North America, along with the blueberry Concord grape. And I think now strawberries just got added into that mix as well. So they were found growing wild here in Wisconsin, and we found a way to cultivate them and turn it into the industry that it is today. So we still have a few wild cranberries growing out in our marshes that we can find before the critters get to them. So that’s pretty cool. That’s a really unique thing to be really proud of.


Grounded by the Farm  03:24

Yeah, it’s interesting. I didn’t even think of what you would call them. They’re not fields you call a marshes. What’s farming, cranberries look like?


Amber Bristow  03:34

Oh, it’s a year long process, kind of like any other type of farming. Usually our busiest seasons are obviously harvest. That’s kind of the image that people are really familiar with, with you know, the guy standing out in water that’s only happens during harvest time. Cranberries actually don’t grow in water. So they’re a perennial plant as well. So they they require they require year round care. So it’s it’s busy all year round for us.


Grounded by the Farm  04:01

All right, the plant cranberries each year, you said it’s a perennial, do always intercede or do you have one plant out there and you continue to


Amber Bristow  04:09

harvest. The way cranberries are planted is pretty unique. We only do a couple we call them cranberry beds. We have 230 acres of cranberries total, but we divide them up into cranberry beds. So kind of like think of like a two to three acre plot is what we refer to as a cranberry bed. If we have a bed that is kind of reaching the end of its production life, we will replant that in the spring. So the way that we plant is the common way that we do it is we have there’s different varieties of cranberries as well kind of similar to apples. They all taste the same, but they kind of vary in size and shape and ripeness rate I guess so we have like an earlier variety, just like a standard variety and then a later variety just depending so it can kind of stagger or harvest out. So if we have a variety that we really like, what we’ll do is we’ll go out And we’ll just mow those vines right off, so they grow on a low running vine. Wow. So we’ll just mow those vines, and then we’ll go out with like a hay bale. And then we’ll just pick those vines up and compact them into a hay bale full of cranberry vines. Wow. And then we will dig up the old bed, we’ll just rip out all those vines dig up all of that soil that they’re grown in, and just put a new soil and then we’ll take those cranberry vines that We mowed off and we’ll just kind of shake them over the sand, disc them in, put water fertilizer on them, and they will regrow from those vine clippings. And then those clippings that We mowed off, those will also regrow within the next two years. Wow. Yeah, it’s pretty cool. They’re a very efficient plant. After we replant, it takes about two to three years of growth for them to produce a sizable crop that we can actually get a harvest off of so much


Grounded by the Farm  05:49

of this is like, did I know that and I’m thinking I’ve learned some of it over the year from Instagram following you. So your channel is cranberry chats. I like that you put Amber and cranberry. Yeah, as your hashtag cram marry, it’s really very good. That’s amazing. So they’re vines, they’re not bushes, we have the image of oil and water does water play much of a role the rest of the year, only at harvest mostly at


Amber Bristow  06:19

harvest is when we use large quantities of water like like you’re used to seeing, we use it all throughout the year. So like in the spring months, so after the fruit is harvested, the vines go dormant in the winter months. So in the winter months, we need to protect the vines because they are perennial. So right now we have buds developing for next season’s crop. So we need to protect those vines. And the way that we do that over winter is we’ll actually flood those beds back up again. So put like two feet of water on all of the beds, and then we wait for that water to freeze up. So it forms a thick layer of ice. And once we have a few inches of ice, usually it takes about seven and 10 days to get like a sturdy layer of ice will pull any extra water off. And then that ice just kind of settles right on top of the vines, it actually protects the buds from any harsh elements. And we’ll do that a couple of times throughout the winter, just to build that ice up so it doesn’t get any damage. And then once that ice melts in the springtime and the vine start kind of waking up and coming out of dormancy, those buds are really vulnerable to frost overnight. So we’ll actually use our irrigation system to irrigate the plants and just make sure that that water isn’t freezing up on the buds or like that frost isn’t sticking to the buds. So that energy between the moving water helps keep the frost from sticking to the buds into the vine. So it kind of keeps them protected in that sense. And then in the summer months, we also use water for just general irrigation purposes. So they required water just like any other plants. And we have a lot of water out here we have a high water table. So all that water that we’re using is kind of recycled and reused. So we’re never letting water go to waste at all. So any water that we do use for like flooding purposes, it’s always getting pulled back out and stored where it came from.


Grounded by the Farm  08:05

That’s really cool. One of the questions I always ask my family and friends, what questions and even on the Facebook page and stuff, what questions people have for the kinds of farmers I’m interviewing. And one of them was asking about climate change. And you know, with different things going on with trout, different seasons. Right now we have these like fires going on in the west coast and stuff. And so it’s kind of hard to predict what kind of weather we’re gonna have each year. That was why they were wondering about water. Are there other issues that you guys have for pest or other problems like that with cranberries.


Amber Bristow  08:42

We since we are in kind of like a marshy, swampy area, we are more prone to bugs. Unfortunately, we don’t have like a lot that can destroy your crop by any means what we do have some nasty, nasty little critters out there that we have to take care of. So a really cool thing that we can do like the flooding in the in the winter months, that water hopefully will suffocate any eggs that were left throughout the summer or fall. So we don’t have to do quite as many treatments in the spring when they start to hatch. So hopefully that water just kind of kills all the nasty bugs right away. And we don’t have to worry about it too much. We also have a lot of spiders out here that can take care of the pest for us too. But we’re pretty fortunate that we don’t have a lot of disease or you know a lot of insects that that really can affect the fruit. We also kind of have to be careful of the wildlife like white tailed deer. We have a lot of geese out here that like to eat the fruit so those are more pests to us than anything else.


Grounded by the Farm  09:43

Yeah, I was thinking birds and staff present such a tough issue for some berry crops or you know things because it gets bright red and people you know, it’s like attracts the animals. Do you harvest cranberries like have you already harvested? This year we’re talking. It’s September Have you already harvested?


Amber Bristow  10:03

Not yet, actually, we are doing our early varieties. I’m trying to check the calendar next Tuesday. So I think like the 15th, mid September is when we’ll kind of start our trial with our early fruit just to kind of work the kinks out before we start our full harvest. And that usually runs from the entire month of October. So we try to finish up by Halloween is kind of like our deadline that we like to set because once you start getting into November, then it starts getting too cold to be out in the elements like that. So we’d like to finish up right around the end of October.


Grounded by the Farm  10:36

The only image I think Americans have of cranberry farms are two people standing in a field in an Ocean Spray for a commercial talking. And there was I can remember like a ninja, and all kinds of different things. So is that just at harvest that you would see the berries above water and farmers and waiters do you go in the marsh like that?


Amber Bristow  11:00

Yeah, so that only happens that image is only during harvest, and the rest of the time, it’s completely dry, I can walk out there and tennis shoes most of the time in the summer and not have what feet. What you see in the commercials, that’s all during harvest, but we don’t have chest waders like they see in the commercials, we just have hit boots. So not quite as stylish, but still still just as functional. The only time that the berries are floating like that is during harvest, the rest of the time, they’re kind of growing underneath a canopy of leaves. So they’re just connected with a little stemmen just hanging out closer to the ground.


Grounded by the Farm  11:34

So when they’re floating in the water like that, as a as a farmer, do you actually go out in the field to help move them towards a harvesting machine. I mean, I can’t imagine you’re like netting them all up, or something.


Amber Bristow  11:48

So I’m going to try to explain this as best I can. So if it’s not making sense, just just let me know. The way that we start our harvest process is we start off by flooding the beds. So we put in six to eight inches of water. And then we have this cab tractor that has tracks instead of wheels on it. And this tractor has like these metal fingers on the front and on the back. So this tractor will drive in the bed. And as he’s driving along these combs just gently just comb the berries right off the vines. And then once they’re kind of off the vines and all the fruit is off, the vines will go back in and we’ll add extra water on top of that. So in total, we have about two feet of water. And we add that extra water to help those various kind of come up out of the vine. So when we do corral them, they don’t get stuck in there and we we get all the fruit that we can. So once all that water is on top, we have two tractors. So the shape of our cranberry beds is just like a long rectangle, we have these two tractors that have these big spools on the back of them. And on these spools, they have what we call a cranberry boom. So if you can imagine like that divider that you have in a pool, where it kind of separates the shallow end from the deep end, like those floating, I don’t know, like that floating rope type. It’s kind of like that, but it’s wrapped in like this waterproof material. And they come in 100 foot sections, you can hook these sections together, you determine just kind of like looking at the crop size, and you kind of determine how many feet of this boom that you need to corral everything. Without it being too tight or too loose. It’s a very, it’s a very precise skill. These tractors will kind of backup to each other on the short end of the of the bed, and one tractor will be stationary, and the other tractor will pull that boom off of that reel of the opposing tractor, hook it up to their tractor. And both of the tractors have kind of like giant hair dryers that will blow in towards the bed. So the hairdryer is just basically push all the fruit


Amber Bristow  13:56

will just kind of push all their fruit into the in the middle of the bed so that they can slide that boom, right alongside of the bed. And then one tractor will start driving. And it’s just pulling this constant boom along until the other tractor driver kind of waves him off and says, Okay, that’s enough. And then he’ll unhook from Israel, hook it up to his tractor, and then he’ll drive along the other side. And then they’ll just kind of meet in one corner and unhook that, boom, stick it down into the ground and move on to the next one. And then our fruit pickup crew will come along to the bed that they just finished corralling. And we have what’s called a berry pump. And this is where it gets hard to explain because there’s no other equipment like this out here. So I’m sorry, if you don’t have a good visualization. I’ll be posting pictures soon. So hopefully, hopefully that helps. But we have this berry pump. And it’s basically just like this giant cart on wheels. It has like two levels to it. So there’s a platform on the bottom that you can drive and then the upper platform that raises It raises up to like 30 feet in the air, which is crazy. That’s where I’m standing. This very pump has like this metal arm that goes out. Yeah, this arm goes out into the water. And on this arm, it has kind of like this metal box on top that has a little sprayers, that will blast into the water. And then down below that box, there’s this little pan that acts as a vacuum. So this arm will go out in the water in the pan sits underneath the water, and the sprayers sit on top, just like right over top of the water. So when we start this up, it pushes water through that metal bar, and it blasts the fruit that’s sitting on top of the water. And that kind of self cleans the fruit. So it kind of knocks off all the leaves and sticks, that kind of gets stuck to the fruit. And then that pan will suck the fruit up out of the water. And then it travels all the way up to the top of this platform where I’m standing. And it goes up into like this big metal bin on top of this platform. And that fills up with water and fruit and it’s still kind of self cleaning all the way up there. And then from that metal container up top, it goes down kind of down at a slant and down that slant, it has a metal grate on there. And those metal grates are set just far enough apart. So all that smaller fruit kind of falls through because we can’t send in small fruit because it just can’t get used for anything, right. So then all the larger fruit that doesn’t fall through the cracks, it goes down into the back of a semi trailer. And that’s what gets sent off into Ocean Spray. And then everything else like any leaves or extra sticks, or sometimes frogs, unfortunately, they fall down those cracks, and then they get shot off into the opposite end and goes into the back of a dump truck. Yeah, so that’s what we call our trash truck is just all the leaves and sticks and stuff that we can’t have. Okay, and then we use that later for compost. So my job standing on top of this berry pump is to make sure that the grades don’t get backed up, like with any grass or anything, because once that fruit starts to backup, then it just turns into this whole big mess. And we don’t want that so and then I also kind of control I let the guys know down below, when it’s time to move that semi trailer ahead. Or when it gets full, then I shut down everything and I started back up whenever it’s time to do so. And then the guys down below, they’re pulling that cranberry boom in out of the water. So there’s a kind of a rotating reel down below that they wrap this boom around, and then they just have to just physically pull that boom, right out of the water until there’s no boom left. And then they make sure that all the fruit gets sucked up. So kind of a real quick overview. That’s kind of harvest in a nutshell.


Grounded by the Farm  17:42

Wow. Okay.


Amber Bristow  17:44

Hopefully that made sense. It does.


Grounded by the Farm  17:45

It does. And we’re going to have videos that we can post in here that will help people. But I think part of the idea is, is so different than any other crop that we grow in the US. A lot of people have gone out and gotten berry picking. But cranberry picking is totally different. It’s a little bit more labor intensive. But when you look at him, they don’t look back different from Yeah. Yeah, I mean, blueberries have a similar shape. And it’s just so weird. Wow, I had no idea we were gonna learn that much about cranberries in descriptive language. I’m impressed because I’m going to make it for harvest next year. Good. Next year, I will be traveling. You mentioned that some of them go to Ocean Spray, right? You know, your cranberries go to Ocean Spray. Can you help me understand it? Is it a cooperative? Like, are you guys part owner?


Amber Bristow  18:42

We are Yeah, that’s a really cool thing. Ocean Spray is a grower Co Op. So it is owned by a lot of multi Gen families like myself. I’m fifth generation out here on our family’s Marsh. And it’s really hard not to find a multigenerational cranberry farm out here. Once you come out and you see what it’s all about, you’re going to understand why there are so many multi generational families, it’s so hard to leave. It’s impossible to leave and never come back. It’s just such a cool, unique industry and there’s so much pride that goes in to into this industry. So that’s why you’re going to be seeing a lot of new marketing from Ocean Spray really highlighting the growers. You’re going to see us more on the back of like juice labels, you’re going to see us on the back of Craisins to hopefully one day you’ll be blessed with my face on your cranberry juice or something I don’t know. But it’s pretty cool.


Grounded by the Farm  19:40

I have had friends on milk jugs and stuff so I guess it’s only good to go there with cranberries. I think that’s that’s so interesting because most people think of Ocean Spray is like a food brand like the the cranberries I have in my freezer right now because I buy some in winter knowing it’s like they’re not going to just putting them out fresh. And so but they’re Ocean Spray cranberries. Good. Thank you. They could have been grown by you. Or your family, maybe the ones that grows?


Amber Bristow  20:11

That would be cool. Yeah. I mean, when you tell people I could get cranberries. Amber, what do you tell people? You can just tell them? They’re from me, I will take credit for them.


Grounded by the Farm  20:21

Can you tell me since you guys are part of the cooperative, what else do you know about how do they determine which ones are freshen? Is there a way? Like are different varieties better suited for the processing side? Or for the crazy side? Or yeah, so how does all that stuff work together? That’s,


Amber Bristow  20:39

that’s totally up to the grower, what they want to grow our family, we just grow for processed fruit. So all of our stuff goes in for juices, sauce, Craisins, that kind of thing. We don’t do any fresh fruit. And that requires a completely different harvest type, I guess, then what we do since we do processed, we don’t have to make the fruit look pretty necessarily. Yeah, it can be dinged up a little bit from our harvest practices. Whereas if you’re doing fresh fruit, it has to be done in a completely different way. It has to be done a lot more gentle. It’s a lot more labor intensive, I think to due process fruit than fresh fruit. So some growers, they have completely different varieties that are a little bit more hardy. So they can withstand a harvest process and not have a few nicks and endings. I’m not totally confident on how they harvest. I know it involves boats and in different water practices. But it’s weird. I don’t know, you can look it up on YouTube. But


Grounded by the Farm  21:38

we’re gonna we’re gonna pretend that like the crawfish.



That’s really funny.


Grounded by the Farm  21:45

It may not be like crawfish. But it is interesting to think that you have to have different varieties. And it’s the same in apples. So you know, the apples that are cut up for a salad bar or for the little snack packs are different than the Apple rate that I typically buy. It makes sense, but I just wondered like so yours are processed. So as a child, I always had cranberry sauce that came out of the can and what’s frequently served in the shape of the cranberry. But yeah, us too. We love it. What’s your favorite way to eat cranberries? Or drink cranberry? Yeah,


Amber Bristow  22:19

growing up, I always had cranberry juice. It’s just a necessity in our house. So all juices I love obviously, but my grandma makes a really good cranberry sauce. And I’m not I’m no cook by any means like ask. Like when I go to family gatherings, they asked me to bring a fruit salad like just cut up a watermelon pineapple. Lucky if I come there with all my fingers. Honestly, if I am in the kitchen, it needs to be something pretty easy. But my grandma makes a really good cranberry sauce. I have the recipe right in front of me. Let me just whip it out.



Oh my goodness.


Amber Bristow  22:53

So it’s four cups of fresh fruit I came prepared today. So this is coming from my grandma. That’s what I call her on on Instagram. I love it. I’ve got all the Korean names just just as an FYI. So it’s four cups of fruit, two cups of sugar, one cup of liquid of your choice, we usually use orange juice to add a little zing. And then you just put that in a nine by 13 covered up with foil you can add like cloves or cinnamon or anything that you want to it and then you just bake it for an hour at 350 and the fruit will stay whole. So it’s really pretty deserved. So you still have the nice round berries in there. They don’t pop or shrivel up like a lot of other a blueberry wouldn’t necessarily. So it just stays like this really pretty, round red cranberry sauce. We love it. It’s super tasty. Oh


Grounded by the Farm  23:44

well. I’m gonna get that recipe written down you’re gonna send me a photo of it so I can put it on the blog. I’m going to also share my mother’s favorite cranberry recipe which makes my family go nuts. And it is one that you boil on top of the stove. So you do want to pop the cranberries with pineapple juice and then you put in sugar we do like sugar. I like the tartness of cranberries but some sugar in there helps to a little bit of gelatin, some pecans and some crushed pineapple. And it’s oh my god, good. But I also like Craisins and salads. Yes, me too.


Amber Bristow  24:21

And anytime with salads or oatmeal Craisins are also really good to bake with as well. Like I mentioned, like I’m not knocking blueberries in any way shape or form. Don’t Don’t get me wrong. I love blueberries, but I have a play. Yeah, they have a place but in muffins and breads, they bleed. So if you’re looking for something a fruit that’s if you’re looking for fruit that’s similar go with a cranberry. Yeah, it’s gonna make everything look prettier.


Grounded by the Farm  24:47

I like it. You know, last year I had something I had not had before and that was a cranberry wine kind of punch. That was Amazing. It was at a nice gift shop over on the other side of the river. And I’m gonna have to see if I still have that recipe because I made it last year it was kind of like a sangria almost. But may well cranberries helped


Amber Bristow  25:13

me in my sounds good.


Grounded by the Farm  25:17

It was good. It’s a little gift shop called fuzzy wigs. Fuzzy wigs sold that last year and they only have it around the holidays a special wine. I’m one of those people who just love it. What is the biggest use of cranberries? Like is it juice or Craisins? Yeah,


Amber Bristow  25:35

up until recently, it was juice for a really long time, that was just kind of like our go to thing. But we didn’t really branch out into many other areas, I guess just because juice was so popular. And now that everyone’s kind of on a health kick. Not that that’s a bad thing. But that’s great for us because cranberries are considered super fruit. They’re very low in sugar, they’re high in antioxidants. They’re proven great for gut health. Everyone knows them for like urinary tract issues. So they’re, they’re great for every aspect of your body. So we’re starting to incorporate that more into different food options. So you’re going to be seeing a lot more like granola with cranberries in them, or cereals, or I just recently saw cranberry dental floss because they’ve been proven great for gum health even. And I saw a pet company come out with like, like this liquid that you can put into dogs water or something like to add, like immunity, health and gut health for your dogs, like people take better care of their pets and themselves. So go ahead, buy all this stuff for your pet. Yeah, definitely. But there’s also a 100% Pure cranberry juice that I buy quite frequently for my smoothies in the morning. Because it is a very low sugar. So I can just add that in instead of water or orange juice or something. So I use that as my liquid base for my smoothies. And I love it. It’s an easy way to get in extra vitamins and it tastes great. If you’re if you like that pucker. Yeah, that pucker power. That’s a good alternative. Yeah,


Grounded by the Farm  27:11

I think that’s interesting, because a lot of us have cranberry cocktail juices are pretty common, right? Like cran Apple, or something. But I haven’t thought about 100% Cranberry. Like, I’m not even sure I’ve ever had that like that would be a tartness to it. For sure. But as a start for something like smoothies, smart Yeah,


Amber Bristow  27:37

if you do buy it, don’t pour a big glass of it. Take take a shot at a time if you can do apple cider vinegar shots, or if you can do grass shots you can do a shot of is this cranberry juice? I never understood grass shots so please don’t come after me for knocking.


Grounded by the Farm  27:57

I am I am picturing people lined up at the bar. Getting there


Amber Bristow  28:02

use it as a vodka chaser. I don’t know whatever you want to do. That’s fine. Yeah,


Grounded by the Farm  28:07

it’s a quite an image. Well, there are quite a few alcoholic drinks that are made with cranberry juice. And one of our friends Leah has a blog farm wife drinks, I’m sure she’s gonna have some breakfast there too. So it will all come together. Ultimately, when we buy cranberries, you guys are harvesting Um, now those will be the ones that are in the markets in October November this year.


Amber Bristow  28:33

That’s, that’s, that’s it. That’s what you’re going to be seeing coming up in the markets pretty soon. And cranberries. They are great to freeze once but they’re not great to freeze twice. So that’s why you don’t see them in the supermarket’s much past like February because we want to make sure that the consumers are getting the best product possible and we know that you as a consumer are going to be freezing them later on just to keep them throughout the year. So we want to make sure that after you freeze them that they’re still going to be a great quality fruit we don’t want you to freeze them and then have us freeze them and then you freeze them again and then when you take them out they’re going to be a little bit mushy compared to if you just froze them the one time so that’s why they don’t have a great shelf life it’s like any other fruit or vegetable they don’t they don’t keep well on the shelf obviously and they don’t freeze well twice. So unfortunately that’s why it’s a little bit harder to find fresh fruit all year round.


Grounded by the Farm  29:32

Yeah, no, it’s a great seasonal product then right like you know you’re getting fresh product in season and then you have juicers year round and craisins year round that are easily you know, kind of easily stored. So I have no idea if you know this so you can tell me know, I buy fresh ones and then I put them in the freezer should I be like putting those in like a zip pack you know, so that it pulls all the air out. Because Chris Memories are kind of sturdy.


Amber Bristow  30:01

So what we like to tell people is when you get a bag of cranberries to wash them off goes through them, make sure that if you do happen to get a bad one that you get rid of it, lay them flat out on a paper towel to dry. And then we just put them in like a freezer Ziploc bag. And then they will keep in your freezer for like a year or so. But if you just have them in your crisper, they will keep for like six to eight weeks as well. So just make sure that you’re cleaning them drying them off. Don’t put them in wet. We think they last longer and better in like a freezer Ziploc than just in like the plastic bag that they come in. Yeah,


Grounded by the Farm  30:39

I’ll always do better. See, if I learn a little bit, always put it into practice. There you go. And then that way, if I’m doing that in the winter months, if I’m getting them and washing them, nicely freezing them, I’ll have some so I can add them into my muffins even in the summer, or add them in with some yogurt in the summer. You know, like if you freeze them in small bags, you can take the smaller bags out and have some available off and on forever. Right? There you go. I mean, part of it is the idea of trying to get more fresh fruits and vegetables and frozen fruits and vegetables and juices in people overall, right like most of us need more fruits and vegetables anyways, that you can do the kind of encourage that helps. Yes,


Amber Bristow  31:26

definitely. I know I need help with that a lot


Grounded by the Farm  31:29

there. It really is. And you get tired of the same thing over and over.


Amber Bristow  31:34

Right? So add some cranberries in there to spice it up a little bit.


Grounded by the Farm  31:38

Exactly, exactly. All right, everybody. So


Janice Person  31:42

this is Janice and we’re back with Amber. It’s been a little over two years. So we talked the Ember it was in August because he was trying to be so smart and ahead of my time, and talk to people about holiday foods before they were really busy. And now here it is October and you’re still willing to talk to me. So thank you. First off.


Amber Bristow  32:04

Thank you for having me again. Talk to you. Now this is great.


Janice Person  32:09

And I wish people would see you but you’re in a marsh a bong or whatever it is. You’ve got cranberries floating behind you because Oh, isn’t it magical wallpaper is so amazing. But two years ago was so long, and I started thinking about it. And when I listened back to the episode, I’m like, oh my god, Janice, you didn’t ask her anything about the skateboard and did from Idaho has like made cranberry juice something amazingly famous. And he was on Tik Tok and Instagram. And like we never mentioned tick tock.


Amber Bristow  32:46

So since social media wild two years ago


Janice Person  32:49

now feels like the history books.


Amber Bristow  32:52

does. It does it feels all just like a fever dream. So much has happened in the last two years. You’re bringing stuff up earlier, before we started recording. I was like, Oh, that was only two years ago. Holy cow. Yeah, the beta, the Tiktok. guy. He came in at the perfect time. Like with Ocean Spray. We didn’t. Ocean Spray didn’t pay him to make this by any means. It just was like in the peak of COVID. And everyone was just like, oh, cranberry juice, it’s so good for you. I need to go out and buy this immediately because of this tick tock. And it was just flying off the shelves and the industry was just booming at that time. So it was it was great. It was perfect. So well. I’m forever grateful for him for like breaking me into the


Janice Person  33:34

it was so funny because one of the last things we had talked about really was sort of how cranberries were on this rise, and that they were beginning to be more and more really healthy food options that included cranberries and stuff. And so then he like, bam brought it to everybody. And I have to say, you know, I told you he’s in one of my favorite TV shows, which is Rez dogs because I spent four years in college in Oklahoma and the Native American community and it just feels very much like home. So I had to put all that in here because I just think it’s great. But take a moment. It is the big thing that’s happened for you is you made your mom or grandma or a cram baby in or the patter


Amber Bristow  34:21

Yes, yes, I had a baby His name is Porter he was born last August so he just turned one and he he’s walking he’s trying to talk he’s handful but he’s the most perfect little thing I’ve I’ve ever seen in my entire life. He rocked my world completely I’m not quite so involved in in the farming side of things right now which is totally okay I’m perfectly content staying at home with him most days and so getting involved when I can and when I’m needed. So we just wrapped up harvest last week actually. So being away from him was the first time I was away all day in a long time and is like, Oh, I didn’t realize how much I missed you for just eight hours and to come home to him and it’s just it’s been great motherhood is just it’s a lot of fun


Grounded by the Farm  35:12

some of the pictures and video you’ve shared of him while he was out, you know, visiting harvest, right. So, like the play time of harvest, which is the kind of pictures I usually take me at harvest, right?


Janice Person  35:25

He looks like he’s very comfortable in the farm world with you guys and pretty much is willing to hop out there and touch the water and try the cranberries and all the things. Yeah,


Amber Bristow  35:36

he is he’s been he’s, he’s a true Instagram baby. I’m just gonna. I think that sums it up. He’s just willing to pose and be a ham and just have fun with me. So I’m grabbing that while I can and hoping it lasts a little bit longer until you start slurring the word. No. And then I think I think the content is going to just just disappear for a little bit, but that’s okay. Well, I


Janice Person  35:58

have to ask you, so if you’re the one that’s home with him more of the time. Are you making him things


Grounded by the Farm  36:05

with cranberries yet?


Amber Bristow  36:08

Yes, yeah, we were we started introducing him to fresh cranberries, especially during harvest, obviously, you break it up into little pieces, and just kind of seeing his reaction, just fresh cranberries. If you’ve never had a fresh cranberry. The texture is very similar to an apple. So it’s got kind of like a thicker white flesh, but they’re very tart. They’re one of the few fruits that are just very low in sugar. So there it is a very tart fruit. So to watch, I really enjoy watching people’s faces the first time they try your fresh cranberry. It’s a little bit of a pucker shock. So to see him try it and keep going back for more it just it warms my heart so much just starting to like them and then we’re adding you know, like the sweet dried cranberries to to like his yogurt and stuff like that. So it’s been it’s fun. He likes them and that makes me happy.


Janice Person  37:02

That’s awesome. I remember my nephew, Tryon lemons and kinda like Yeah, and also having that pucker face like, Oh, wow. And that’s what the baby kinda does and then grabs another one.


Amber Bristow  37:15

Yeah, yeah, we started him with a lime actually, just to see because I was like, well, maybe he’s not gonna like it. I don’t want to have my feelings hurt when the time comes. He loves it. He loves all things tart and pepper II so he must have got my taste buds. Perfect.


Janice Person  37:31

I love it. Well, let’s talk about some of the other things that are going on for you because you just like have blown up like you love Instagram. You love Tik Tok. And then like It’s wild. You’ve got a good following there, though.


Amber Bristow  37:46

Let me tell you about tick tock I, I didn’t have I didn’t do anything on tick tock because I’m afraid of the younger generation and like their wild comments and their lack of filter when they leave comments. I’m too sensitive for me, for me and things on the internet. So I kind of stayed away from posting on Tik Tok. And then, just recently, I only I only had like two or 3000 followers. And then I shared a video about harvest. And now it has 5 million views. And I have 23,000 followers just like overnight and it’s wild. And it took one video on on tic tac for me to get more followers than I have on Instagram I’ve been posting on consistently for like three or four years. Yeah, it was wild. I don’t understand it. But it’s it’s fun. It’s really cool to see a different group of people reacting to the content, you’re sharing and educating people. So it’s always cool to get like their feedback, like oh, I had no idea. Like this is so perfect. I need to go out and buy cranberry juice now. And so to get that fresh, I’m like a new group of people is really fun and exciting. So tick tock, I was afraid of it. I’m still a little afraid of it. turning out to be really fun and reaching like a new demographic of people that I wasn’t reaching on Instagram. So that’s cool, too.


Janice Person  39:09

I will tell you I think a lot of people have that fear factor and I certainly do because you’re you’re at least a millennial and I’m Gen X so you know, but it is amazing to me how many different segments of tic tac there are there are people that do incredibly deep smart things as well as people that do the silly dances that we all know. Right? And all the smart comments and all the Yeah, so I’m glad you found your home there.


Amber Bristow  39:38

I hope so. I hope it doesn’t take like a weird turn and I wind up on the wrong side. Then you still have to cranberry


Janice Person  39:43

chats there and on Instagram so it’s yes it’s pretty easy to find you on either


Amber Bristow  39:49

yes so hopefully I don’t upset like the wrong person. They come find me on the other platform I don’t it’s scary world we live in I


Janice Person  40:00

love it. Well, I wondered if there were any new foods that you like to have cranberries and I showed you. I love these Velveeta Breakfast Biscuits. I carry them with me when I travel especially because sometimes when you get to a hotel, the only thing they have is like sugary stuff right? And so this is something I typically buy and take with me and keep them here at the house. I love the the cranberry orange is my favorite. And then when even anything about you, I ate those this morning and then went oh my gosh, you’re talking to Amber this morning. Good thing you have cranberries on the desk. How about you? Have you found some new things that you really like?


Amber Bristow  40:41

I just actually yesterday I found like a new water enhancer? Like those little Squeezy things that don’t have any calories. Yeah. And then what are they called? They’re like called stir. I think St. Yeah, are. There’s a cranberry pomegranate flavor that I found I brought a variety pack off of Amazon and it’s actually pretty good.


Janice Person  41:03

Well, I love the pucker factor of pomegranate too.


Amber Bristow  41:08

It’s not like it’s not too tart, but it’s not too sweet. And it has antioxidants and vitamins and stuff in it. So it makes me feel better when I drink it. So that’s pretty good. Otherwise, let me see there. It’s hard to find but they Ocean Spray came out with cranberry seeds that you can eat so it’s kind of like chia seeds or flax seeds.



I am amazed.


Amber Bristow  41:36

I don’t I don’t know if it’s like a test market thing. But they turn that into like a flower as well. Yeah. And it? Yeah, yeah. It like because when I eat cranberries, like I really enjoyed tasting the seeds. That probably sounds really weird, but it has kind of like a nuttier taste to them. And I really like it. So when I saw that they were coming out with the seeds, I was excited. I don’t know what to do with them other than, like, add them to smoothies and stuff because it’s not like you can just grab handfuls because they’re so small. But those have been a good addition to my smoothies in the morning. I kind of replaced like my flax seeds and chia seeds with those, just because they do have a lot of antioxidants and vitamin C and like all the good things that cranberries have. Yeah, and the seeds. That’s been that’s been fun if you can find them. I think I found them on Amazon a little while ago. Everything. Yeah, Amazon. So it’s so


Janice Person  42:31

weird. How many food introductions and food things are on Amazon now?


Amber Bristow  42:36

Yeah, it is what it is like, yes. It’s your easy these limited


Janice Person  42:39

time things that pop up and go. So I’m gonna try and get cranberry seeds before I even published this episode.


Amber Bristow  42:48

I just couldn’t find them



just so I can do a test. Yeah, I didn’t want to have it.


Amber Bristow  42:53

Let me know if you if you find them. And if you try them what you think?


Janice Person  42:56

Yeah, I think it’s an interesting one. Because my, you know, my nieces and nephews. So I now have great nephews who are that age of your seven. So there’s one, that’s three. And there’s one that just turned one a little while ago. And so they love new foods, like cranberries and stuff like that. Now, they do like them in smaller amounts, then you know, some things and stuff. But they love the diversity of colors. And they love the diversity of textures and things like that. So I could see how Porter would be a big fan. Yeah,


Amber Bristow  43:30

yeah, it’s really fun seeing what he likes and what he doesn’t like. And it always helps if the food is a bright color and something different than what he’s used to. So that’s, that’s kind of a small perk as well.


Janice Person  43:42

I love it. I love it. I wanted to make sure people knew we also have available for schools to use with students. We have a program that we put together and you were able to review that for us and everything and make sure we actually had information, right, we talked about bogs as well as marshes, because in the northeast, they call on bogs. And then the Midwest. They’re Martius. Right? Very different, very different people. It’s okay, both are fine. But then the other thing was as we go through sort of the ecology of it. And I think that people are really interested in the ecology of cranberries and stuff, what all is like a natural Wonderland at times.


Amber Bristow  44:27

Basically, my favorite time of year is always springtime, just when everything starts coming back to life. So one of the reasons that cranberries do love growing in Wisconsin is because they do need that really cold, kind of harsh Wisconsin winter. And so when everything kind of starts thawing and coming back to life, and the plant starts waking up from dormancy, and you really get to see all of the wildlife out here kind of coming back to life as well. So we have a ton of white tailed deer. If you go by any cranberry Marsh animal Wisconsin, you’re, you’re going to see a deer fence around the property, we have that many deer. They just reintroduced elk into our area a couple of years ago as well. So it’s kind of fun to go out and see in like the cornfields or in the soybean fields to go out and look for the elk. They’re kind of majestic. They are, I don’t want them near us. But they’re fun to look at from afar, that they’re a little aggressive when they walk in. We don’t want that out here. But we have a lot of Fox like a lot of raccoons, a lot of possums. We have a family of swans that always comes back every year, we have a couple of families of swans, a lot of East frogs a lot of a lot of every day. So that’s kind of one way that I like to explain that cranberries are such a sustainable industry is you take a look at the wildlife. We’re not the only things living out here. We have such a great ecosystem. And there’s a reason why all of us enjoy living here is because we are such a sustainable industry and everything is happy and healthy and loves being here. So it’s a lot of fun to see kind of the new things and and otters. I posted a video Well, this summer, we have a family of otters that have been around for a couple years. And to see that every year, it’s always really fun swimming along in the in the ponds and in the ditches and stuff. That’s fun. We’ve got a lot a lot of little critters out here.


Grounded by the Farm  46:27

And they’re like me, they tend to hibernate.


Amber Bristow  46:31

Yeah, yep, that’s living the dream.


Janice Person  46:34

Well, you guys have finished harvest already. That seems early. Because you say you try and finish before Halloween, but sometimes it doesn’t always happen. So was this year a good year? Or did you finish early? Because it wasn’t so good.


Amber Bristow  46:52

Both It was It wasn’t our best year. I’m not going to I’m not going to brag and say that it was an excellent year. Yeah. But it wasn’t a terrible year by any means. Either. We started a few days earlier in October as well. So that kind of played into it, too, obviously. And once we started, we just kind of said, You know what, we’re just gonna it’s not a bumper crop, we’re not going to try to stretch it out as long as we can. And try to make it till the end of the month, we’re just going to kind of pedal to the metal and get it all done. So we did have pick a day and just stop harvest because it was snowing and so cold overnight. It was awful. So with cranberries,



they are not


Amber Bristow  47:37

a good fruit to freeze, thaw and then re freeze. So the flesh gets soft. Yeah, the more times that they freeze and thaw. So we That’s That’s why you can’t find cranberries in store all year round. They’re not a good. They’re not a good, yeah.



Groceries counts that way too. Right?


Amber Bristow  47:59

Right. So if if we had cranberries floating in water or a night, and it froze to the degree that it did freeze, they would they would get softer. By the time I was ready to by the time the water thought and they could be picked up again. So we had to stop harvest. We couldn’t we couldn’t get any more berries off the vines. We just had to kind of just pause, wait for the call to pass and then continue the following day. So that slowed us down a little bit. But but not a lot. So we just kind of wanted to get it all done and and say good luck next year.


Grounded by the Farm  48:36

I think a year the rest of the year, or did you guys have a lot of drought problems because it was kind of spotty around the US.


Amber Bristow  48:43

It was we did go through a drought period. The really great thing where we’re located. We are in a marshy area. So we do have a naturally high water table. So if you do look at a cranberry bed, it’s dug down into the ground quite a bit. So that’s because we want the roots as close to the water table as possible. So it was always just kind of damp underneath there. You don’t want it soaking wet. But it’s just kind of Yeah, always damp. But we were irrigating quite a bit throughout the summer. We weren’t getting a lot of rain. So our reservoirs were drying up a little bit. But we do have well water that yeah, we can turn on if we need to. And we did have to do that once towards the end of the summer. And it’s very expensive. So we don’t like doing that obviously, but in Drastic times. You know, you kind


Janice Person  49:30

of still want the fruit to mature and be good. Right? So yeah,


Amber Bristow  49:34

we need that. We still need that moisture. But yeah, it was It wasn’t okay here. Again, it’s just kind of, I think, something more drastic circumstances than we’re used to with with all the storms and getting warmer in the spring. Whether you like it or not. I think global warming is a real thing. And there’s some change in the weather patterns. There’s there’s Some change come in. So we’re just trying to adapt and adjust to that. But what’s really great about the cranberry industry is we work so closely with our University Extension Program. Yeah. So we have researchers that we can work one on one as an industry with and come to them with our concerns and our problems and say, What what happened this year? Like, why was Why wasn’t the fruit set as great as it should have been? And they can go back and say, Okay, well, here’s the growing pattern that happened earlier in the spring, early summer, and this is what caused this to happen, and they can come back and, and bring us new research and say, Okay, if this happens next year, maybe apply fertilizer a little bit earlier, you know, things like Yeah, so it’s really great to have that, that those resources so readily available for us and just dedicated to our industry, it’s really great and, and really helps us grow and develop as an industry as a whole. So it’s pretty cool that we have that those resources for us. Yeah, I


Janice Person  51:01

love that, you know, the ability to maintain production, despite


Grounded by the Farm  51:06

changing climate is a big question for a lot of crops and a lot of different areas. And, you know, knowing it’s droughty Okay, well, there’s drought, if you don’t have irrigation, like you guys do for other crops, it comes really problematic, right stuff. So there’s a lot of really smart people doing research into understanding those patterns and figuring out the cycles or the different, you know, shifts because like right now, it’s, it’s 41 day here. And then it was like, at the next day, like the shift in the temperature was so dramatic. And that probably complicates growing food.


Amber Bristow  51:45

Yeah, it does. It really does. And I’m glad I’m not. I’m not the researchers trying to figure out what to do. I just, I just ask the questions and, and see what they say. So yeah,


Grounded by the Farm  51:56

and let them work with the data. And they probably have 100 years where the data on weather and impacts on crops and they can figure out all those deep, dark secrets. And then today


Amber Bristow  52:08

what to do. That’s also how to get paid the big bucks.


Janice Person  52:12

I love it. Well, I hope you guys have a great holiday season. This is a great just to catch up and just to see your smile again. Everybody can find you at cranberry chats and you’re on Instagram, tick tock and Facebook. Yes. So whatever platform other people like they can find you there, Amber. That’s right.


Grounded by the Farm  52:34

Thank you, girl so much. I appreciate it. You have a great holiday. Thank you. You too. Okay, before I let you go, I just want to say thank you for joining us. We love holiday foods and bet you do too. There are so many out there we would love to hear about your favorites. To do that. We’ve got a voicemail number set up where you can just leave a message that numbers 989-303-8489 We would love for you to call leave your name. If you want to leave how to get in touch with you feel free, it’s not needed. And then tell us about your favorite food. What makes it your favorite food and your family actually prepares it all of those kinds of things, some of the ingredients. If you have any questions for farmers of those foods, shout it out and maybe we can include it in a future episode of grounded by the farm. Thanks so much.


Janice Person  53:33

Don’t forget we’ll have everything on our website grounded by the Talk to you soon.


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