Estonian cranberries rarely make it to jams and juices
Autumn is the time for berry picking, and vitamin-rich cranberries are ready in Estonian bogs and marshes. Unfortunately, due to changing weather conditions and the declining number of berry pickers, imported berries from further afield have been used mainly in store jams and juices.
Triathlon. This is what an experienced berry picker says about the journey that leads from the city of Tartu to a good cranberry place. Berry picker Rein Molodõk said that it takes an average of five to six hours a day to pick 40 liters of cranberries this year.
One of the few places where pickers and buyers can take berries in addition to the market counters is the jam factory in the village of Aakre.
"Currently, the farthest cooperation partner is Hiiumaa, we have got both rowan berries and cranberries from there. Then there is the Valga area, the Põlva area, the Räpina area, the Peipsiääre marshes," Vahur Vuks, the manager of Aakre Moosi, said.
Every year, however, the jam makers of Aakre cannot manage with berries from their homeland. "If there is a shortage sometimes in the winter, we buy more. Some varieties have too little yield in a given year."
"We buy the berries that don't grow in Estonia at all from them, and then they will also find us blueberries and cranberries," Vilks said. "For example, rubus berries are almost non-existent in Estonia. There have been callers every summer, but rubus berries have only been brought in small quantities five or six times. Rubus berries come from Finland and Sweden."
Aakre jams are not available in stores, but it is in pastries or ice creams, as well as in the morning porridge of schools and kindergartens.
"We don't have a retail line, a small jar line. What we do in small quantities is handmade, and we will not compete with big companies like Salvest and Felix," Vuks said.
Jam berries for both Põltsamaa and Salvest do not come from Estonia. Saarek, one of Estonia's largest buyers, freezers and producers of berries, has been buying cranberries from the Nordic countries for many years. Although there are a lot of forests and bogs in Estonia, companies justify importing cranberries and blueberries with fluctuating weather and a shrinking workforce.
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Editor: Roberta Vaino