With the cost of living steadily rising, I never walk away from a good deal, especially when it’s for healthy food. Cranberries can be obtained for next to nothing when coupons are stacked on top of sales during the holidays. During the rest of the year try purchasing cranberries in bulk at warehouse stores for the best price. Surplus cranberries can be frozen or dehydrated to prevent waste due to spoilage. If you have a food dehydrator that’s great, if you don’t you can still dry your own cranberries using your oven. Here’s a simple guide to dehydrating cranberries.
Benefits of Dried Cranberries
Dried cranberries are great to eat alone as a snack or to toss into salads, cookies, or trail mix. Cranberries are packed full of vitamins and antioxidants and have numerous health benefits.
- They can prevent and treat urinary infections
- Improve memory
- Alleviate symptoms of anxiety & depression
- Boost your immune system
- Lower cholesterol
- Cleanse the body of toxins
- Dissolve Kidney stones
Cranberries contain a lot of juice. You will want to make sure that all of the cranberries are split open before dehydrating. If you don’t, excess moisture will remain inside the cranberries after the dehydration process and cause them to go bad. You could cut them all open with a knife but there is a much faster way to process cranberries.
How to Process Fresh Cranberries
There are two ways in which cranberries can be quickly processed. You can flash boil them for a couple of minutes which will pop most of them. Be careful not to heat them for too long because you just want to pop them, not turn them into mush. This happened to me the first time I tried this method. Instead of making dried cranberries, I ended up making cranberry sauce.
You can also pour boiling water over them and let them sit in a closed container for ten minutes; with this method, there is less risk of turning your cranberries to mush. Check to make sure that all of the cranberries have popped. Pop the ones that didn’t open in the boiling process by slicing them with a knife.
Cranberries tend to be naturally sour you will want to soak them in some type of sweetener overnight in the fridge. This must be done after splitting the cranberries so that the sweetener can enter the cranberries. Apple juice concentrate, corn syrup, sugar water, or water with stevia are all good options. You should also add a little bit of citric acid or lemon juice to the liquid. This will aid in the long term preservation of the cranberries.
If you are using a food dehydrator you should follow the manufacturer instructions that came with your machine. If you’re using your oven you will want to set it to its lowest temperature setting, which should be between 130-150 degrees. While your oven is preheating do the following:
- Line oven pans with parchment paper (not wax paper)
- Drain and rinse your cranberries in a colander.
- Lay paper towels on your counter, then dump the cranberries out onto the paper towels and spread them out. Place more paper towels over the top of the cranberries and blot them dry.
- Transfer cranberries to the parchment paper. Make sure they are spread out in a single layer.
- Dehydrate cranberries for 4-8 hours, opening the oven door for a minute every 30-45 minutes to allow steam to escape.
You should note that dehydrated fruits tend to be chewy when they are still warm but get harder when they cool. After four hours you should begin checking the cranberries every hour. To do this, remove a cranberry from the oven and let it fully cool. Then compare it with the consistency of store-bought dehydrated cranberries. Be careful not to overcook your cranberries or they will be hard and crunchy.
Once your cranberries are done dehydrating and have fully cooled you should transfer them to a glass jar. Only fill jars halfway at this point. Thoroughly shake the jar. This will redistribute any residual moisture. Let sit for a day, if any condensation appears on the inside of the jar it means that the cranberries are not done and will need to be further dehydrated.
Once you are sure that the cranberries are fully dry you can transfer them to long term storage containers. If you’re using mason jars you can now fill them to the top with cranberries. Jar attachments can be purchased for food saver machines. They will suck all of the air out of the jars to keep your cranberries fresh.
Mylar bags are also a good way to store dehydrated cranberries. They can be purchased online or often obtained from your local bakery. When using mylar bags for food storage you should put oxygen absorber packets in with the food. Make sure you are using food grade absorbers, as the other type can contaminate your food. If you don’t have a special sealer for mylar bags you can seal them with a clothing iron set on high. Try to remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing. You can do this by compressing the bag.
Mylar Bags can also be purchased online here.
Recipes containing Dried Cranberries:
- Chocolate Cranberry Cookie Mix
- Craisins Cookie Mix
- Cranberry Almond Cereal Mix
- Cranberry Drops Cookie Mix
- Cranberry Hootycreek Cookie Mix
- Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes
- Cranberry Orange Biscuit Mix
- Cranberry Orange Muffin Mix
- Cranberry Spinach Salad
- Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti
- Smashed Sweet Potatoes w/ Dried Cranberries
- Spiced Cranberry Cider Mix
What are your favorite ways to enjoy dried cranberries??
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