Cranberry fruit (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is rich in polyphenols, particularly oligomeric proanthocyanidins (PACs) possessing antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. PACs may play a role in resistance to fruit rot. Although many cranberry cultivars are grown for use in foods, beverages and nutraceuticals, data on PAC content among cultivars is limited. Eight cultivars were sampled from four growing regions during the 2010 season and analyzed for PAC content and composition.
MALDI-TOF MS showed that isolated PACs had similar oligomer profiles among cultivars. The major constituents were A-type (epi)catechin oligomers of two to eight degrees of polymerization. Total PAC content ranged between 18 and 92 g PAC kg⁻¹ dried fruit, quantified as procyanidin A2 by the dimethylaminocinnamaldehyde method. Among the cultivars sampled, Howes had the highest total PACs (76-92 g kg⁻¹), followed by Mullica Queen and Early Black (48-82 g kg⁻¹). Ben Lear, a disease-susceptible variety, was significantly lower in PACs than the other cultivars (P < 0.001).
Several traditional and newer cultivars of cranberry from various growing regions in North America are excellent sources of PACs, particularly the Howes, Mullica Queen and Early Black cultivars. PAC content may play a role in keeping quality.