Nantucket Island Cranberry Bogs in AUTUMN

There is nothing more spectacular than autumn on the island of Nantucket; the colors of the foliage, the peaceful ebb and flow of the tides on the quieted beaches, the celebratory sound of the church bells harkening the hundreds of weddings each weekend, the genius minds who come together for The Nantucket Project, the farms lushly displaying their brilliantly colorful autumnal yields and finally, the celebration of the 160 year old cranberry bogs, the epically fascinating cranberry bogs, culminating in the annual Cranberry Festival.  It’s an amazing industry, with an incredible history, and one that has certainly has made us appreciate that glass of cranberry juice we pour or that can of cranberry sauce we open!

The History of the Nantucket Cranberry Bog

Cranberry bogs in Nantucket began in 1857 and grew to an incredible 234 acres!  Today, they produce 2 million pounds of cranberries per year!  Who could believe this on this tiny island 30 miles out to sea which measures a mere 14 by 3.5 miles!?  Can you imagine that until 1959 it was the largest contiguous bog in the entire world?  Then, water conservation became a priority, thereby necessitating the construction of watering ditches. Subsequently, this caused a sub-division of the bogs into smaller, more water efficient units.


How are Cranberries Grown?

Cranberries are water-harvested. What does this mean? They are grown on vines tucked into beds of sand and gravel and carefully cultivated throughout the year in bogs. A sophisticated irrigation system floats them in water to facilitate easy harvesting. The floating cranberries benefit from increased sun exposure, which increases their phytonutrient content giving them their gorgeous bright red color, and giving us the health benefits of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. So cook, cook, cook and drink, drink drink with cranberries!  

Every year we walk the bogs with a proud fascination with this incredible natural habitat on our favorite little spot in the sea. No way could we have imagined the drama of this industry, until we actually experienced it. Our daughter, Brooke Lyons Osswald, visiting from LA, enjoys a stroll around the bogs appreciating nature's bounty....

Turkey Cranberry Chili

  • 2 pounds of ground turkey
  • 6 cups Pomodoro Sauce   
    NOTE: I always have this on hand either in the freezer or I make it fresh. You can also substitute Rao’s Sensitive Sauce in a jar. It’s delicious!
  • 2 tbs Coconut oil
  • 2 tbs Ghee
  • 1 can black olives drained and cut in half
  • 1 c chopped parsley
  • 4 large carrots chopped and steamed al dente
  • 2 cups butternut squash cooked (mashed or cubed)
  • 2 cups dried cranberries
  • 4 cups shredded fresh spinach
  • S&P to taste
  • 1 tbsp Turmeric
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon

Coat a frying pan with the Coconut oil and Ghee and cook the turkey until no longer pink. Drain water from it. In a 9x12 baking dish combine turkey with sauce, olives, carrots, butternut squash and cranberries.

Season with S&P to taste (I’m heavy on the pepper!), turmeric and cinnamon. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes covered. Remove from oven, fold in the spinach. Cover and return to oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit covered for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Penny’s Cranberry Sauce with Walnuts and Orange

  • 1 12oz bag of cranberries or 3 cups cranberries
  • 1/2 c water 
  • ½ c orange juice
  • 1 c sugar
  • Zest of one naval orange
  • 1/4 c chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp Cointreau (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  1. Bring water, orange juice and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add cranberries, return to boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes on low, stirring.
  4. Remove from heat
  5. Stir in Cointreau (optional)
  6. Fold in Walnuts
  7. Add Cinnamon
  8. Cover and cool completely at room temperature (while it thickens)
  9. When cool, sprinkle with orange zest
  10. Refrigerate***(I make this a day or two before as a time-saver!)  BE CREATIVE WITH HOW YOU SERVE IT!  I don't like it running all over the plate making the foods red, so I offer different serving options, including tiny little dipping bowls.  Think out of the box! The glasses make for an awesome presentation on a buffet!

Cranberry Stuffing Sausage Balls  ( giant wow!)

  • 1 lb Breakfast Sausage
  • 1/4 c Dried cranberries, plumped  
    * Bring 1 cup of orange juice to a boil. Pour over cranberries, cover and let sit for 10 mins. Strain.
  • ½ tsp Ground sage
  • S&P to taste
  • 1 Small onion finely chopped
  • 1 Stalk celery finely chopped
  • ½ c Mild Cheddar cheese shredded
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Box of Chicken Stove Top Stuffing *Prepare according to instructions on box
  • 1c Chicken Stock (low sodium)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Brown sausage until no longer pink. Remove from pan
  3. Add onion, celery, S&P and sage and sauté until soft
  4. Toss sausage, onion and celery mixture and remaining ingredients into a bowl and mix well
  5. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil
  6. Scoop consistent sized balls, the size of a tablespoon, and place on cookie sheet
  7. Bake for 15 minutes.
  8. Skewer and arrange decoratively on platter with cranberry sauce in the center. *** Recipe for cranberry sauce above
  9. Garnish with orange peels

Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Stuffing

  • Package of 2 pork tenderloins
  • 1 Box of Savory Herb Stovetop stuffing
  • 1 c dried cranberries ***plumped as above
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • Kitchen string
  • 3 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • Fresh rosemary

  1. Prepare stuffing according to directions
  2. Mix together with plumped cranberries
  3. Add 2 tbsps chopped rosemary
  4. Butterfly tenderloins and pound thin
  5. Add 1-2 cups stuffing mixture in the centers (depending on the size of your meat)
  6. Fold up both sides and tie with kitchen string every 2 inches
  7. Wedge fresh sprigs of rosemary between pork and string
  8. Coat skillet with EVOO
  9. Add 2 tbsp chopped Rosemary to pan
  10. Add tenderloins and sear on 3 sides
  11. Remove from skillet and place in baking pan in oven for  15-20 minutes or until temp is 145.
  12. Remove from oven and place on cutting board, loosely tented with foil for 10 minutes before slicing.

Cranberry and Pear Smoked Gouda Salad

  • Fresh baby spinach leaves
  • Endive
  • Smoked Gouda spears
  • Clementine slices
  • Chopped walnuts
  • Dried cranberries
  • Sliced red Anjou pear

Creamy Cranberry Balsamic Dressing

  • 1c EVOO
  • 1/2c Balsamic vinegar
  • 1c Jellied cranberry sauce

Mix in Vitamix or Cuisinart to desired consistency (I prefer a thicker dressing). Assemble salad ingredients decoratively on a plate, as shown, drizzle with dressing and serve!  BIG HIT in our house!