But won’t you want to know when to pick Cranberries to get fully ripened berries that taste sweet instead of immature sour berries? The best time to pick cranberries is Autumn when they ripen from September to the first week of November.

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Picking cranberries at the right time of the year is suitable for getting edible and delicious fruit. So late October to November is ideal for harvesting to ensure maximum sweetness. Here you will find everything to understand when and how to pick cranberries.

When to Pick Cranberries?

Cranberries are seasonal and best to pick during Autumn. But how long do Cranberries take to ripen? After planting, the shrubs take 2 to 3 years to pass different growth phases, and they start ripening in September but are ready to be harvested in November.

Usually, the shrubs are planted during Spring and Summer after passing the Spring’s last frost. After that, the plant takes the form of low-height shrubs and vines. Enough time is required to proceed with this growth, and the flowers will develop next spring.

 Pick Cranberries

Sometimes the shrubs take five years to develop fruits which is quite a long period, but it will all be worth waiting for.

With the arrival of September, cranberries start ripening into juicy flesh, and this is the right time to pick them.

How to Know Cranberries Are Ready to Be Picked?

There are four ways to identify whether cranberry is ripened - time, taste, color, and texture.

Identify By Time

As cranberry is a seasonal fruit, its ripening can be decided completely by noticing the time. The shrub takes time to grow and bear fruit, but once berries develop, you can get the ripened ones during September and November.

It is important to wait until cranberries are fully ripe because you won’t like the taste of unripe berries.

Identify By Time

Know By Taste & Smell

You can taste cranberries to check if they have ripened. Tasting them won’t pose any health risk, but your taste bud might hurt a little due to extra bitterness.

However, the ripened berries taste more delicious due to their sweetness.

There isn’t a significant difference in the smell of ripe and unripe cranberry. An overripe berry has a fruiter or sweeter smell due to damaged waxy skin.

Their skin is thicker than the skin of the red apple. Notice The Color

Their color varies from crimson red to slight maroon. If the cranberry color is green, you should wait for more until it is ripe. Changing color from red to dark purple is a sign of overripening. These colors are due to the pigment anthocyanin, which emerges after exposing cranberries to heat or cold. You can ripen them to turn red by keeping them in the freezer.

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Identify By Texture

Touch can also help you know if the cranberry has ripened. An unripe berry will feel hard compared to a supple ripened berry. However, an overripe cranberry will feel more softened with a mushy texture and blemished skin.

Bounce Test

By bounce test, you can easily differentiate a ripened cranberry from an unripened one by bounce test. Drop the berry on a hard surface and see if it bounces back. Ripe cranberry is supple, neither too soft nor firm. A ripe berry will make a bong sound and doesn’t plop.

How to Harvest Cranberries?

Mostly grown on vines or shrubs, cranberries are harvested in two ways.

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Dry Harvesting Cranberries

The dry harvest method is useful for harvesting a small percentage of cranberries. You can pick them one by one by hand or with mechanical pickers. However, this method isn’t effective commercially and picks less than half as many berries as wet harvesting. The quality of berries remains better with this method.

Wet Harvesting Cranberries

Wet Harvesting Cranberries

Farmers rely on the wet harvesting method at the commercial level because it is less labor-intensive. As cranberries are often grown in marshes, farmers flood to a height of 45 centimeters to increase water levels above bushes. Air Pockets inside the center of cranberries allow them to float in flooded water. A large number of cranberries (95%) can be harvested within less time by this method.

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Are Unripe Cranberries Edible?

Cranberries are edible, whether ripe or unripe but make sure they are not solid or green-colored. The green or immature cranberries taste acidic, and you will never try eating them.

However, wait for them to ripen before eating or cook them by adding sugar. You will not be able to notice the difference in the taste of ripe and unripe berries after cooking them with added sugar.


Do Cranberries ripen after picking?

Most berries can be ripened even after picking, which isn’t possible in the case of cranberries. Once harvested, they will not ripen, and if you have harvested ripened berries, luckily, they will not become overripe.

Do Cranberries fruit every year?

Cranberries have a growth period of sixteen months; during this period, they grow from shrubs to develop fruit. However, weather conditions play a great role in deciding their quality and quantity over the year. Too dry and too cold seasons aren’t suitable for cranberries.

Should Cranberries be hard or soft?

A ripened or edible cranberry has a firm, deep red, and glossy skin. Cranberries having soft or wrinkled skin are not fresh. You must store cranberries in the refrigerator or freezer to keep them fresh.

Final Thoughts

Cranberries are undoubtedly, highly nutritious and provide sufficient amounts of Vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. To enjoy their taste, you can grow them in fields or inside your home. You can pick them up anytime you want to eat ripened fruit, specifically from September to November.