If you’re interested in eating some dried cranberries without the added sugar you’re going to have to make your own. Unfortunately, unsweetened dried cranberries would not win over many customers. Cranberries are just too tart for most people. However if you’re a foodie or just simply not interested in consuming processed sugar, there are ways to dry cranberries at home. Simple ways. Here are a few options.
Unsweetened Dried Cranberries – Method #1
- 12 ounces of fresh cranberries (more or less is completely fine – cranberries are usually sold in 12 ounce bags)
- 2 cups of boiling water
Submerge the cranberries in the pot of boiling water with the heat turned off. Let the berries sit in the water until the skins pop. It’s important not to let the cranberries boil otherwise they will become too mushy. Drain the berries and then transfer them to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the freezer for about an hour or until the berries are completely frozen. Place berries on a mesh sheet and then put them in your dehydrator until they are dry and chewy, about 16 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator place them in the oven set at around 150 F for about 6 hours.
Unsweentened Dried Cranberries – Method #2
Follow the directions for Method #1 but forgo putting the berries in the freezer. This method may take longer for the berries to dry but it is still very effective.
Sweetened Dried Cranberries – Method #1
- 12 ounces of fresh cranberries
- 1 teaspoon of Rapadura, stevia or your favorite natural sweetener, I do suggest using a dry sweetener with this method
- dash of sea salt (optional)
Using a pairing knife, cut each cranberry in half and lay them face up on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle the cranberries with sweetener of your choice. I like to add dash of salt across the berries, simply because I like the sweet and salt combination, but this is a personal choice. Let the berries set in your oven for an hour (turned off) or so before transferring them to your dehydrator. Dehydrate for about 16 hours. If you are using your oven, put the temperature at the lowest setting (usually around 150 F) and bake for 3 to 6 hours.
Sweetened Dried Cranberries – Method #2
- 12 ounces of fresh cranberries
- 2 quarts of boiling water
- 1/4 cup of honey, brown rice sweetener, or maple syrup
Follow the directions for Unsweetened Dried Cranberries Method #1. Before placing the berries into the freezer coat the berries with sweetener of your choice. I found honey and brown rice sweetener are easier to work with when heated up a bit in a sauce pan.
My experimenting with dehydrating cranberries has taught me a few lessons. First, always use fresh cranberries. In other words if you are interested in drying cranberries at all, you may want to consider doing it when fresh cranberries are available. Fresh cranberries are available now if you know of a friendly cranberry grower willing to impart some of his precious berries. Otherwise they are generally available in the supermarkets starting in mid-October through December. It is possible to use frozen berries, though from my experience they come out too tough and take forever to dry.
Second piece of advice, if you’re not too sure if your berries have completely dried, you may want to double check. Dried cranberries only store well when they are completely dried. To know for sure simply place some berries in a zip-lock bag and seal. If the bag begins to fill with moisture the berries need some more time to dry. You can store your dried berries in a glass Mason jar or in a zip-lock bag. I keep mine in the freezer if I don’t plan on using them all right away.
Every Tuesday we will try to post a cranberry inspired recipe. Whether you’re from a cranberry growing region or not, you might have a recipe or two stashed away in your pantry. If so, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share your recipe and story on our blog.
We’ll be participating in Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday with this recipe. An excellent resource for some amazing, healthy recipes. I highly recommend you check it out!