TURNER, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- When we think about harvesting cranberries, we typically envision a flooded bog.
But more than 95% of the time, a cranberry field is only sprinkled with water. It's called dry harvesting, and at Ricker Hill Orchards, there are 12 manmade fields that only get flooded when it's time to harvest.
"We pick them dry, something like walking behind a lawn mower, and you take the heavy boxes, and you stack them, and there's a lot more hard work. But the product's been very well received. People seem to like the cranberries made in Maine, and for good reason, we believe," Harry Ricker, one of the owners at Ricker Hill Orchards said.
Harry Ricker's family has been growing apples in Turner for over 200 years. But in the mid-1990s, Ricker says he was looking for a way to diversify. That's when he decided to grow cranberries.
"Being an apple farmer, when we got into the business, I was looking for the biggest, reddest cranberries, because that's what people want in apples. The cranberry people thought I was crazy, but it says right on our bag 'bigger, redder, better,'".
Cranberries have helped stabilized the farm's budget. There have only been a couple of years when the prices of both apples and cranberries have been down. Ricker says, that's a lot better than what could have happened over the past 15 years. The addition of cranberries paired with the "buy local" movement has saved his farm.
"And the little bit of money to people buying is a huge amount to us being able to stay in the business. So we've been very fortunate that we've had great support and we hope that it's a trend that turns into just normal."
You can bet that cranberries will be on the Ricker's Thanksgiving dinner table, but don't ask this Ricker to make anything but the cranberry sauce.
4 cups of cranberries
2 cups of water
2 cups of sugar (or less, if you desire)
Boil water, sugar, and cranberries for about 5-10 minutes, or until you reach the consistency you want. Mash the mixture with a fork, then put in the refrigerator to chill before serving.
1 (12 ounce) package whole cranberries
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup water
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
3/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Zest of one orange (optional)
1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the cranberries, white sugar, and water. Cook, stirring occasionally until all the cranberries have popped and the mixture is thick, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool. Once cooled mix in orange zest, if desired.
2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, melted butter, and eggs. Stir in the oats, brown sugar, ginger, and cinnamon. Set aside about 1 1/2 cups of the mixture, and spread the rest into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Pack down to form a solid crust, getting it as even as possible. Spread the cooled cranberry mixture over the crust. Pinch off pieces of the remaining mixture and place evenly over the cranberry layer.
4. Bake for 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven, until the top is lightly browned. Cool in the pan and then refrigerate for at least a few hours before slicing. (For best results, refrigerate overnight.)