2011 marked the debut of Discover the Cranberry, the Festival Cranberry Bog, sponsored by Ocean Spray Craisins. The bog has returned for 2012, and during opening weekend of the festival, Ocean Spray growers were on hand to answer questions and educate guests on the amazing little fruit.
The bog is over 1,300 square feet and is home to over 1,500 pounds of cranberries.
Cranberry growers as well as cast members engage guests with facts and information on how the fruit is not only grown but also used. Every part of the plant has a purpose: greens are reused in compost, juice is pressed, and the skins become Craisins. Be sure to pick up a free sample at the nearby booth if you’ve never tried Craisins before! To find out how the fruit’s health benefits, read more over at CranberryHealth.com.
Advances in technology even over the last few years has made growing easier. Manual temperature monitoring, for example, no longer requires a drive out to the bog; sensors can now send text notifications when the temperature gets too low. Since there is only one harvest a year, these notifications are crucial so the growers can take the proper actions to prevent the crop from freezing.
As part of the opening weekend festivities, Ocean Spray hosted a reception for media to which we were invited. Cocktails and appetizers featuring Ocean Spray cranberries and cranberry products were featured, and we were also invited to don the signature waders to get into the bog.
Each drink featured cranberry juice, and ranged from the classic Cape Cod to interesting combinations of Midori and Cranberry. The Cranberry Bomber, a non-alcoholic concoction of Cranberry Juice, Orange Juice, Grenadine and Honey. The bartender kindly added a splash of Grey Goose Le Citron vodka for Matt’s special version.
Shelley of On the Go in MCO sips on an O Fizz
I loved the Cranberry Martini, which was light and refreshing. Fresh cranberries garnished the slightly tart yet citrusy cocktail.
The Midori Cranberry was another interesting cocktail. I’ll definitely be mixing this one at home!
Matt enjoyed his alcoholic version of the Cranberry Bomber.
We were served an assortment of dishes prepared by Disney chefs featuring cranberries. The Rock Seared Free Range Chicken with Craisins Vodka Caviar was reminiscent of a Thanksgiving leftovers-esque chicken salad, and the Craisins Vodka Caviar added a playful, delicious element.
The Cranberry Marinated Gold Beets with Kumquat Jalapeno Marmalade were a delicious bite with a mild heat balanced by the sweetened cranberry sauce. The color of the beets was really beautiful; at first glance, they look like tiny peach slices.
While I’m typically not a fan of cooked salmon, the Cranberry and Sea Salt Cured Wild Salmon with Citrus Sugar Crystals impressed me. The delicate cucumber slices provided a cooling crunch, and the candied citrus and Craisins added a light sweetness to the savory salmon.
The Artisan Cheese Stuffed Mini Craisins Brioche seemed to be a popular item, as I was only able to grab one before heading over and into the cranberry bog. But who doesn’t love some simple cheese and bread, and the Craisin flavor accompaniment is a delicious pairing.
Matt’s top pick was the Craisins Infused Five Spice Char Kobe Beef with Fire Roasted Corn. The sweet corn and well-seasoned, tender beef in the crispy pastry was very enjoyable. I’ll want to experiment more with this concept at home.
After snacking and sipping, it was time to get into the bog. Tables were set up for our cocktails while we wore our waders and mingled inside. It was quite the experience, as wearing the waders and walking through the cranberries seemed to heighten the buoyancy. Several of us mentioned how we wished we could lie down in the bog.
We had a fantastic time learning about Ocean Spray and its products, and tasting the delicious assortment of cocktails and creative foods incorporating cranberries and Craisins. If you’re interested in cooking with Ocean Spray products, check out the recipes on their website or download this PDF featuring some of the recipes we sampled.
Disclosure: I was invited by Weber Shandwick on behalf of Ocean Spray to attend this media event. The views expressed in this post are my own.