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What Identifies a Cranberry as Ripe

What Identifies A Cranberry As Ripe?

Wouldn’t you love to know what identifies a cranberry as ripe instead of trying your luck with immature berries that are not sweet at all?

Cranberries grow like a small vine lying low to the ground. The berries are oval in shape, deep red when ripe, and whitish-green when unripe. The berries are easy to identify from other berries. The best thing about these berries is they are free from the use of pesticides.

Cranberries begin ripening in September! But it is best to wait till late October or November to harvest them. As the season progresses, they sweeten and become more edible. If they get hit with a frost and have already turned red, that’s maximum sweetness.

Let See What Identifies a Cranberry as Ripe

To understand what identifies a cranberry as ripe, there are 3 main factors to consider – the feel, smell, and color. It should be crimson red in color, should smell very subtle, and should feel supple to the touch.

Let See What Identifies a Cranberry as Ripe


Ripe cranberries are crimson red to slightly maroon. A green cranberry means it is immature or not well grown. Dark purple color means the cranberries are overripe. Color alone is not the only factor that determines the ripeness of these berries. Growing conditions and harvesting time affects the berries’ coloration. The color of the cranberries comes from a pigment known as anthocyanin. This pigment develops in the cranberry skin when exposed to cold or heat. In most cases, you will always see half white, half red cranberries. This happens because the half white side stayed cooled and never developed the red color. You can turn the white cranberries red by popping them in the freezer and watch the color change.


Ripe and unripe cranberries smell almost nothing. Overripe cranberries have a distinctive fruiter and sweeter smell. Unripe and ripe cranberries have a waxy skin thicker than a red apple’s skin. The smell does not pass through the skin because it is thicker. When the cranberry starts to spoil, the cell walls start to break down and becomes goopy and soft. The soft-skinned overripe cranberries are easily damaged. So always buy the ones that have a subtle smell so that it ripens more at home.


Use the bounce test to tell if a cranberry is ripe or not. Drop the cranberry on a hard surface like a cutting board and see if it bounces. Ripe cranberries are supple and not firm or soft. Bounce a few cranberries to determine if they are ripe or not. Use the ripe one as a guide and compare it with the feel of the others. The sound of ripe cranberries comes from the bounce test- the berry should not plop or splat. Ripe cranberries bounce and make a noticeable ‘bong’ sound.

Can Cranberries Ripen After Picking?

What identifies a cranberry as ripe is the ability to bounce when ripe.  Always aim at picking good ripe cranberries also known as bounceberries. This is due to their ability to bounce when testing for ripeness. Cranberries do not ripen after harvest! That’s why you should only pick the shiny, bright red to dark red. Shriveled berries or those with brown spots should not be picked.

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How Do you Use Cranberries?

Cranberries can be used in various ways. They include:

  • Freeze them as whole berries for eating
  • Make juices or sauces and can them
  • Roast the cranberries diced with winter squash and add them to savory rice, quinoa dish or toss a few into an apple pie
  • Make cranberry cheese ice cream

Are Unripe Cranberries Edible?

Yes, you can eat unripe cranberries as long as they do not rock solid or green. You can eat both ripe and unripe cranberries but immature ones are a different story. In a large batch of harvested cranberries, some are going to be ripe while others unripe. If they are green in color or rock hard, they are not good for eating.

When using cranberries in recipes, it is hard to tell the difference between ripe and unripe especially when sugar is added.

How To Pick Cranberries

The night before the berries are harvested, it is important to flood the bog up to 18 inches of water. Farmers use water reels called ‘eggbeaters’ to churn the water and loosen the cranberries from the vine. Each berry has a tiny pocket of air that allows it to float in the water. Any berry that sinks should not be eaten, rather thrown away.


Cranberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. They are growing more familiar to both home cooks and restaurant chefs. The best cranberries are firm to spongy and should not sink in water. Head out and get your berries today.


What Identifies A Cranberry As Ripe?

They are related to both strawberries and blueberries. In the culinary world, one of the most important factors in determining whether a cranberry is ripe or not is its color. The flesh should be bright red with a slight translucence so that it appears moist and fresh. This means that bogs should be harvested before they are completely dark because once they are too dark, the cranberries will no longer be juicy and will taste slightly sour.

Cranberries are berries that have a high water content, which makes them soft, juicy and sweet. Ripe cranberries are usually dark in color and have a high sugar content. Cranberries can last up to three weeks when stored in the refrigerator.

Should cranberries be hard or soft?

The question of whether cranberries should be hard or soft is a debate that has been going on for centuries. In addition to the taste and consistency of the fruits, the size, shape, and color also play a role in which type of berry you prefer.
The answer to the question of whether cranberries should be hard or soft - is subjective because each person prefers to eat cranberries in different ways. Some people like them hard and some prefer them soft.

Some say soft berries are better because they have more flavor. Others say hard berries are better because there are no seeds that can get stuck in your teeth. Regardless, this is not an easy question to answer as there are no clear cut answers for this topic.

Many studies have been conducted on this topic but overall, it seems like nobody is really sure what type of cranberry you should prefer.

Can you eat unripe cranberries?

Unripe cranberries have a very sour taste and they are not easy to chew. The sugar content in them is low. In most cases, these berries can’t be eaten until they’re a little older and dry.

There are lots of people who think that unripe cranberries cannot be eaten and that they are not good for consumption. There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that it is not safe to eat unripe cranberries. Eating them at this point can cause stomach upset.

What should be the texture of a cranberry?

Texture is determined by the type of berry and taste preferences. For example, there are some people who prefer a ribbony cranberry and some who prefer a jelly-like one. Generally speaking, cranberries should be slightly firm with a little bit of give.

The texture of a cranberry should be considered in terms of what it will be used for. Cranberries can be eaten whole or in sauces or as jams and jellies.

How do you pick good cranberries?

The best way to pick cranberries is by visual inspection. Be sure to go through the berries and check their color, size and shape quickly. If they are not perfect, then you should choose another variety.

The right cranberry should be a bright red color with a diameter of no more than one-half inch. The skin should be hard but not tough. Avoid those with mold or spots on it because these can make your pie soggy or affect the taste of your dish.

Should fresh cranberries be soft?

If you are picking fresh cranberries, they should be firm. It is important to note that fresh cranberries should not be mushy and soft. If you find that your cranberries are mushy, they will start to get moldy faster and this will affect their taste.