Pilgrim Seasonings

Plymouth Colony Foodways: Notes and Recipes from a 17th Century Kitchen

Cranberry Timeline

September 26th, 2012 by KM Wall



1. In England

  • a. (1588) Thomas Muffett, Health’s Improvement: “Vacinia palustria. Fen-berries grow not only in Holland in low and moist places, but also (if I have not forgotten it) in the Isle of Eli. They are of like temper and faculty with our whortles, but somewhat more astringent. Being eaten raw or stewed with sugar, they are wholesome meat in hot burning fevers, unto which either fluxes of humors or spending of spirits are annexed. Likewise they quench thirst no less then Ribes, and the red or outlandish Gooseberrie.(119-20)
  • b. 1597, John Gerard, The Herbal.:
  1. Fen-grapes;
  2. Fen-berries,
  3. Marish-Berries,
  4. Marish-worts,
  5. Marish –whortleberries;
  6. Mosse-berries,
  7. Moore-berries
  • c. In High Dutch (German) –Moszbeeren, Veenbesien (V are pronounced like F, hence fenbesien….)
  • d. In Dutch: kranebeere (sound familiar?)

2. In New England:

  • a. 1621 – no mention
  • b. 1643 – Roger Williams describes the Narragansett sasenineash as ‘ a kind of a sharp Fruit like a Barbury in taste.”
  • c. 1647 – John Eliot  “as why are Strawberries sweet and Cranberries sowre, there is no reason but the wonderfull worke of God that made them so. (A Berry which is ripe in the winter and very sowre, they are here called Bearberries.)”
  • d. 1650 – February 25 – Taunton (MA) – John Slocume, age nine. Had been gathering ‘cramberries’ with about twenty other people before he got lost in the woods, the cranberries being wholly incidental to the Court Proceedings Inquest about his disappearance, BUT – what are 20 people doing out in the woods gathering cranberries and what the heck are they doing with them once they take them home? And why don’t they tell us???
  • e. 1672 – John Josslyn “Cran Berry or Bear Berry…a small trayling plant that grows in Salt Marshes, that are over-grown with moss;…the Berries …red, and as big as a Cherry; some perfectly round, others Oval, all of them hollow, of a sower astringent taste; they are ripe in August and September…They are excellent against the Scurvy…They are also good to allay the fervour of hot Diseases. The Indians and English use them much, boyling them with Sugar for Sauce to eat with their Meat; and it is a delicate Sauce, especially for roasted Mutton: Some make Tarts with them as with Goose Berries.” (65-6)

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2 Responses to “Cranberry Timeline”

  1. Rick says:

    20 people lost in the woods after gathering cranberries? I blame the smoke monster.

    Thanks for the timeline, Kathleen.

    Cranberries: Sliced, not spooned.


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