The cranberry harvest is underway, and the holidays are not far off. Now is the time to order a box of Maine-grown cranberries for your sauces and baked goods.

Sugar Hill Cranberry Co., a small, family-owned cranberry farm in Columbia Falls that has 11 acres of bogs, ships fresh cranberries anywhere in the United States. They also do a lot of shipping to military bases, where having cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving brings a touch of home to the troops.

The company grows three varieties: Pilgrims, Stevens and Howes. Pilgrims produces the largest berries, used for juice and concentrate, and they typically go to wineries, breweries and distilleries. Stevens and Howes are used for sauces and baking. The latter is an heirloom variety that dates back to the 1860s. “Howes have the more tart cranberry flavor,” said Christine Alexander, whose family owns the farm. “It’s more intense. The Stevens are a little bigger in diameter. Sometimes you have to chop those up.”

A 5-pound box of cranberries is $30; a 10-pound box costs $42; and a 20-pound box is $70. Shipping is included. Store the cranberries in the refrigerator until the holiday season, or freeze them for up to a year, Alexander said. This year, for the first time, Sugar Hill berries will be sold at 23 Hannaford stores. They can also be found at farm stands and orchards, including Rocky Ridge Orchard in Bowdoinham, the TradeWinds Market in Blue Hill, and Simon’s Farmstand in Ellsworth. They are at the Eden Farmers’ Market in Bar Harbor on Sundays and the Southwest Harbor Farmers’ Market on Fridays. Look for them at the Fryeburg Fair and the Bangor Harvest Festival as well.

Buying Maine cranberries helps one of the state’s younger, or at least reviving, industries. The state’s commercial cranberry industry disappeared in the early 1900s. In wasn’t until 1991 that Maine had its first modern commercial harvest. By 2010, there were 30 growers in the state, most in Washington County.


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