Here comes cranberry’s big moment – the holidays! Each year, cranberries are the go-to fruit of choice for Thanksgiving and holiday tables. What is it about these floating fruits that make them so irresistible to little hands?

Some facts about cranberries:

Cranberry Sensory

  • Cranberries are only one of a few fruits native to North America.
  • It is believed that cranberries were a part of the first Thanksgiving feast held in 1621, in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
  • Cranberries are grown in bogs (beds layered with sand, peat, and gravel), and on a vine like strawberries.
  • Oregon, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Washington are the only states that grow cranberries, as well as some parts of Canada.
  • Americans consume over 400 million pounds of cranberries each year, with about 20% of that total during the Thanksgiving holiday alone.

With all this info, we wanted to check the theory that cranberries float. What if we froze them? What if we squished them? Peeled them? Put them in a closed container?

Setting up sensory water play is the best way to test the floating theory.

Cranberry Sensory

All the items you will need will most likely already be around the house for Thanksgiving:

  • A bag or two of cranberries (put a small portion in the freezer to test)
  • A turkey roasting pan
  • A baster, whisk, measuring cup, tongs, etc.
  • An empty water bottle

Fill the your turkey roasting pan with lukewarm water. Allow the kids to spill in the cranberries. Do they float right away?

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Let the kids go at it with the basters, eyedroppers, measuring cups, and whisks.

What about those berries we froze? Yes! Even frozen cranberries float! (Plus they make a very cool, rattling sound when they are frozen solid!)

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Next we squished and peeled the cranberries – they did not float!

Lastly, fill a water bottle about three quarters full and drop in several berries. Screw on the top (tightly!) and see what happens to the cranberries. Still floating!

The science behind it:

Cranberries are “wet harvested”, which means farmers flood the bogs growing the cranberries with water. Large machines run through the flooded bogs, and dislodge the berries from the vines. Cranberries FLOAT because they are filled with air pockets. Dried cranberries, or the squished cranberries will never float because the air has been taken out.

Cranberry Sensory

Happy Thanksgiving (with a side of cranberries!)