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Centre-du-Québec Rolls Out Its Red Carpet: Harvest Cranberries

Be warned! You have never seen an adult get so excited about a simple fruit. I assure you it’s for a good cause, as this is on every to-do list during fall in Quebec! I’m crazy for cocoa puffs about this small red fruit that has all of the Centre-du-Québec residents come together when October hits: the cranberry! If you’re wondering where the best place to see the cranberry harvest is, you’ll want to keep reading. Follow me along my cranberry trip! In addition to the traditional colours of trees changing across the province during autumn that are a must-see if you’re travelling here, cranberry season is a magical time to put on your calendar and include in any fall trip to Quebec. Not only is it one of the lesser-known activities, but it’s surprisingly different from the traditional pumpkin patch or apple-picking excursion!

Why Such an Obsession With Visiting Cranberry Fields?

Ever since I first saw an advertisement where the hosts were standing in a lake full of floating cranberries on TV, every fall I tell myself that I will go and see this spectacle of nature with my own eyes. Year after year, however, I miss the cranberry period, until this time, when I realized one of my bucket list things to see in Quebec and, at the same time, tested one of the flagship accommodations of the Centre-du-Québec region.

As we’re stepping into official fall, I invite you to plan your weekend in the Centre-du-Québec region now to take advantage of the colours and festivities surrounding the season; cranberries a-floating are happening soon! By pairing this visit with a gourmet night at the Manoir du Lac William, you will take advantage of my favourite season in the province and sleep in one of the best accommodations we have to offer.

How to Visit a Cranberry Harvest and Field?

COVID-19 NOTICE

Please note that the information in this article may be inaccurate due to closures and changes during to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although I try to keep the information up to date, it is your responsibility to validate the information before you get there, as things change very quickly, alas!

So, you’re wondering, where is the best place to see cranberries being harvested in Quebec? As most of the cranberry growers are in the Centre-du-Québec region, it is therefore quite logical that the Cranberry Interpretation Center, also called Canneberge en Fête, opens its doors every fall. The center is located in St-Louis-de-Blandford, 1 hour 45 minutes from Montreal, in the heart of the central region.

When you arrive on site, a team guides you through the process and the different steps of the workers to get the cranberries from bush to bouche. My favourite part of the visit is definitely the field trip! Or is it the tasting in the boutique? Hard to say!

How Are Cranberries Harvested?

It is a fairly simple process that we discover in the company of a guide. He aboard us on a school bus that takes us to one of the participating fields. We then hop on a tractor trailer. I have a front-row seat, and am super excited. I can’t wait, I have been hoping for this moment for a long time and I am very moved. Something about this process inspires me, as I know almost nothing about it at first. I look forward to the moment when the floating red carpet is rolled out for me!

So how does this actually work? When the cranberries are ready, the acidic bog is flooded about twenty centimetres high. The next day, threshing is done, which means that the growers shake the plant. The cranberries then come off and float up to the surface. The water level is then increased by about forty centimetres and the cranberries are harvested on water.

Some may say it kind of looks a bit like the log drives back in the day. All the cranberries are collected using large pipes that gently pull them closer to the conveyor, which pumps them into a truck for transport to the plant.

When we pass by the ponds, I stop myself not to jump into the cranberries. Seems like a cool swim. OK, I know it’s just a fruit and I really can’t tell you why I’m so obsessed with wading through them. I swear I’ll continue my quest and, one day, I will manage to find a producer who will allow me to take a fruit bath and take photos at water level! One day, one day… Another item for the Quebec bucket list experiences, eh?

In the meantime, check out these photos and make sure to see this for yourself once in your life. Cranberries will never taste the same again after you’ve understood how they are brought to your table! In fact, stop by the shop for a tasting of the various products made from this fruit at the onsite boutique. You’ll also learn how to cook the little fresh balls of redness, and you can walk away with some fresh, unprocessed cranberries if you like that kind of bitterness!

Did You Know This About Cranberries?

We often hear the word atoca, at least in my family that’s how the mashed cranberries served with turkey are called at Christmas in Quebec’s French-speaking households. I learned that this word actually comes from the Huron language and we’ve changed it over time for cranberries! You’ve learned something new today!

Useful Information About Cranberry Season: What To Do in Centre-du-Québec?

  • The Cranberry Interpretation Center (Centre d’interprétation de la cannerge) is open from October 1 to October 18, 2020 (dates may vary every year).
  • It is located at 80, rue Principale in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford.
  • Consult the website at canneberge.qc.ca.
  • The visit takes place from Sunday to Thursday without reservation. You just need to show up to get a ticket. The bus departures to the fields are continuous from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • The VIP visit: We go in a minivan with a guide to admire and photograph the fields while tasting a plate of local products. Group of 2 to 6 people. Mandatory reservation. Contact for prices: centreinterpretation@canneberge.qc.ca

Enjoy this fall must-do harvesting experience in the Centre-du-Québec region!

Do you have any funny obsession like mine with cranberries or another fruit?

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Centre-du-Québec / Fall Activities / Quebec Destinations / Trip Planner / What to See and Do / When to Go

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