Who What Where When How

Cranberries by Marshall Katzman

WHO knew? Wisconsin claims the title of cranberry capital of the planet.

Although cranberries grow in various corners of the world including Canada and Chile, it’s Wisconsin that carries the mother load.

Cranberries congregate in the central part of the state, where enthusiasts can find not only acres and acres of fields and farms, but also a collection of cool cranberry-centric attractions including the Cranberry Highway, a Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center and, if timed correctly, a knockout festival celebrating all things cranberry.

WHAT’s this about a CRANBERRY HIGHWAYCrazy About CranberriesDrivers wanting a self-guided tour catching the highlights of cranberry country need only follow the official 50-or-so mile Cranberry Highway, a route along highways 54 and 173 that loosely loops between Wisconsin Rapids and Babcock. The drive passes through quiet rural landscapes rich with century-old cranberry beds and small towns holding choices of places to eat, drink and make berry merry.

WHEN to go? Definitely at harvest time (usually much of September and October) when Mother Nature double dips the glory by dressing tree leaves in autumn finery while ripening berries for the picking.

Ripe berries contain a pocket of air and float. To aid the harvest, growers flood cranberry beds with water. Machines troll through the water, releasing berries from their vines. The berries pop to the top of the water where they brighten landscapes with long streaks of crimson as they wait to be corralled and collected.

Harvesting cranberries

Gathering Cranberries by Marshall Katzman

WHY the fuss?  Cranberries in hand by Marshall KatzmanMore than just a pretty face, cranberries top the list of super foods. They are not only good to eat (when mixed with a sweetener of some sort), but also super good for health (when not mixed with too much sweetener). Be warned: some commercial cranberry juices contain more sugar than found in soda and soft drinks. 

WHERE to stop, shop, stay, eat and otherwise savor Wisconsin cranberry country?


The NECEDAH NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, a 43,696-acre refuge for a cornucopia of wildlife including two crane species, the endangered Whooping Crane and the Sandhill Crane.

Just FYI, cranberries were originally called “crane-berries,” either because cranes frequently visited cranberry marshes eating the berries and/or because the cranberry flower resembles the neck, head and bill of a crane.

Cranes at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge

Cranes at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge

Also visit the WISCONSIN CRANBERRY DISCOVERY CENTER in Warrens. The multi-faceted property holds a museum showcasing cranberry paraphernalia, a shop selling cranberry products and an ice-cream parlor serving cranberry flavored ice cream.

Here is where to learn some cranberry facts such as:Cranberry Sign at the Cranberry Discovery Center

1. Cranberries are one of the three fruits indigenous to North America.

2. The cranberry is a trailing, woody evergreen vine that grows low to the ground in sandy soil (not water).

3. Once upon a time cranberries were shipped to market in wooden barrels, each holding 100 pounds. Today the barrels are long-gone, but the 100-pound unit of weight remains the industry standard.

4. Cranberries add pizzazz to a cornucopia of products, including wine, jellies, sauces, chutneys, candies, candles and soaps.

Cranberry Products by Susan Manlin Katzman

5. Cranberry-flavored ice cream rocks!


If your family is large and loaded with kids, stay at the THREE BEARS LODGE in Warrens. The lodge offers super-size units with kitchens and has a dynamite indoor/outdoor water park that families will love.

Three Bears Lodge


If you crave comfortable luxury, stay at THE OSTHOFF RESORT in Elkhart Lake. The resort offers graceful suites, a fine cooking school and a fabulous spa that hedonists will adore.

The Odthoff Resort


Cranberry ChutneyBURNSTAD’S EUROPEAN RESTAURANT in Tomah. If possible, try the roast pork or duckling served with house-made cranberry chutney.

Fennel, Cranberry and Orange SaladLOLA’S ON THE LAKE in the Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake. If on the menu, order the fennel, cranberry and orange salad with a Parmesan crisp.

Double Chocolate Cheesecake withCranberry SauceHOTEL MEAD in Wisconsin Rapids. Ask for the double chocolate cheesecake with cranberry sauce.


HOW to bring cranberry magic to your home kitchen? Oh sooooooooo many ways, but non better than by baking bread from a recipe supplied by Chef Scott Baker, director of food and beverage for The Osthoff Resort.

Chef Scott Baker making Fougasse

Chef Scott Baker making Fougasse


Yield: 3 loaves.

3/4 cup room temperature waterThree Loaves Fougasse

Olive oil

1 recipe room temperature pate ferment (see below)

2-1/4 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon instant yeast

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary


Semi-course sea salt

Put water, 1 tablespoon oil, pate ferment, flour, yeast and salt in the large bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with a dough hook set on low-speed until the flour is moistened.  Cover bowl and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Again mix with dough hook at medium speed to form a smooth dough, about 7 minutes. Add cranberries, walnuts and rosemary and beat until blended.

Oil a large bowl and transfer dough to bowl. Cover tightly with foil or plastic and set aside at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Gently punch dough down. Cover bowl and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.

To Bake: Divide dough into thirds and gently work each third into an oval or triangle shape. With rolling pin, flatten each piece to 1/2-inch thick.

Cover three baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly sprinkle semolina over paper. Transfer dough to baking sheets. Cut 3 to 4-inch slashes all the way through the dough the dough, making a grain or leaf pattern.Fougasse Cooling on Rack by Susan Manlin Katzman

Set the dough in a warm, moist place until double in volume. (The place could be slightly warm oven with a pan of hot water on the bottom rack.)

Brush risen dough with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake in a preheated 400°F oven until golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

When baked, remove bread from oven and cool on a rack.


1-1/2 cups bread flour

4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon medium rye flour

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

3/4 cup cool water

In the large bowl of a stand mixer combine flours and yeast. Stir in water. Mix ingredients with a hook on medium speed until a smooth dough forms.

Cover bowl tightly with foil or plastic and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour. Punch dough down. Again cover bowl tightly with foil or plastic and refrigerate 12 to 24 hours.

Return dough to room temperature before proceeding with recipe.

Fougasse by Susan Manlin Katzman