Wednesday, November 23, 2022

On Cranberries and Clipper Ships

This is the week where I'll eat cranberry sauce for the first time this holiday season, and a vintage tea towel I bought the other day had me delving into a unique connection between tea and cranberries … perhaps.

This tea towel came from my friend Nancy's delightful Carriage House Antiques and Gifts in Senoia, where I always attend the holiday open house in early November. This piece caught my eye since it featured cranberries and seemed perfect for Thanksgiving decor.

It says cranberries were "first cultivated in Cape Cod, 1816," and indeed, it appears that was the year that Captain Henry Hall, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, became the first person to be successful at cultivating cranberries in the US (bless him!).

But my goodness, were cranberries really served aboard clipper ships, those speedy ships that became known for quickly delivering tea from China? According to an article on the site, "During the days of the clipper ships, captains kept barrels of cranberries on board to prevent scurvy." Who knew?

And I read in several places that yes, New Englanders in 1677 sent ten bushels of cranberries back home to King Charles as a diplomatic gesture. How delightful that a simple tea towel had me exploring cranberry history!

I love cranberries and homemade cranberry sauce, but my family likes the canned variety, so Lord willing, that's what we'll be having tomorrow. I did, however, buy two bags of fresh cranberries at the store this week so I can experiment with some recipes in these two vintage recipe booklets I've found over the past year. However you like your cranberries (assuming that you do!), I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. That's a very interesting tea towel! I sure didn't know that some clipper ships had kept cranberries on board to prevent scurvy among the crew. I had heard of keeping limes or lime juice (which is why British sailors were known as Limeys), but I hadn't heard about the cranberries. I hope everybody reading this has a happy (and scurvy-free) Thanksgiving!

  2. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  3. Very interesting towel! I think my youngest son would disown me if I didn't make cranberries for Thanksgiving! LOL Have a happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Happy Thanksgiving! I am new to your blog. I adore tea and find your articles so enchanting. I live on the Washington coast, smack dab in the middle of cranberry country. I have only been here a year, but love this small, sleepy fishing community I now call home. Cranberry blogs and commercial fishing are the backbone of this area. I am learning so much from newly made friends about the history. I look forward to reading your future posts.

  5. Happy Thanksgiving! I so enjoy all your posts! Always such interesting topics. So thankful for you.


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