Cranberries offer many great benefits to your health and for this reason many are turning to dried cranberries to eat out of season. Providing antioxidants and preventing bladder infections, cranberries may well be the perfect food so many choose to eat them on a daily basis to stay healthy.
Purchasing dried cranberries is inexpensive but one must watch out for added sugar. Most of the dried cranberries in your local supermarket today come as “sweetened” dried cranberries.
Rarely will you find them unsweetened in a regular grocer. You may have to consider a speciality store such as a health food store to find them unsweetened.
Another alternative is to make them yourself. Yes, you can dry your own cranberries in the comfort of your own home.
It’s quick and easy to make your own fresh dried cranberries at home and leave the sugar out. All you need is a dehydrator or your own oven. Here’s what you will need if you wish to make your own dried cranberries at home:
1 package of fresh cranberries (fresh is preferred over *frozen)
1 large saucepan
sugar or sugar substitute (we like stevia)
Your oven or a dehydrator
Paper toweling or clean dish towel
*If using frozen you’ll need to thaw your cranberries and then proceed as directed below however, leave out the washing and draining part.
Use the thawed juices as your water and add the sugar or sugar substitute directly to the saucepan and mix into the cranberries well then proceed as directed when putting the saucepan on the burner.
(Leave this step out of using frozen cranberries)
Prepare your cranberries by washing them and draining them well. If you’re going to add sugar or a sugar substitute you must first dissolve the sugar or sugar substitute (we like stevia) in one cup of water.
Blend until all of the sugar dissolves. How much sugar or sweetener you add is entirely up to you. Some like things sweeter than others do. Once the sugar mixture is dissolved pour it over your cranberries in the saucepan.
Your next step is to put the saucepan onto a burner on your stove. You may need to add a bit more water as you’re going to cover your cranberries.
Now turn your burner on and be careful not to let your cranberries burn. Stir frequently and keep a close eye on them. The goal is to allow your cranberries to boil until the skins burst.
The outer skin should split or pop open. Make sure all of your cranberries are popped open. If they don’t pop open, they won’t dry properly and can mold.
Now that all of your cranberries have popped open it’s time to drain them. Using your strainer drain all of the water out of your cranberries. Now lay some paper toweling or a clean dish towel over a cookie sheet and let your berries cool and dry off.
You may pat them dry with another paper towel or dish towel if you wish to speed this step up.
If you’re using your food dehydrator you should set your dehydrator at 120 degrees and layer your cranberries on the dehydrator trays.
It will take your cranberries approximately 24 hours to completely dry, some dehydrators will dry them in 12 hours so watch them closely and make sure to turn them frequently so that they will dry evenly.
If you’re using your oven, pre heat your oven to 200 degrees Fahreheit. Using a cookie sheet you may now place two to three layers of paper toweling onto the cookie sheet and then you may add a thin layer of parchment type paper.
Now lay your cranberries out in one layer on top of the parchment paper.
Place your cookie sheet into the oven on the center rack. Immediately lower your oven temperature to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure to turn your cranberries every so often so that they will dry nice and evenly.
This method will take 8 to 12 hours depending upon your oven.
When done, your dried cranberries should be chewy and leathery.