Thursday, January 17, 2013

How to Make Your Own Dried Cranberries

I go a little cranberry crazy around the holidays. Since late October through early January is the only time cranberries are available in the grocery store, and given that I love to bake with cranberries, I have a habit of buying them every time I see them at the market. The result? Leftover cranberries.

In prior years I have simply frozen them so I can make cranberry bread later in the spring and summer. But I’ve got a craving for Cranberry Chocolate Rice Cookies and I’ve been on a make-it-myself kick lately (and I just happen to have some Erewhon Gluten-Free Rice Cereal sitting in the cupboard). Rather than running out to the store to buy dried cranberries, the natural solution was – you guessed it – to make my own.

All you need are some cranberries and a little bit of sugar. I don’t have a food dehydrator, so I used the long method.

Boil some water and pour them over 2 cups of cranberries.

Let it sit for 10-20 minutes until the cranberries have popped or are very plump. Strain the cranberries. Use a potato masher if needed, to force any un-popped berries to open up. Keep in mind that cranberry juice is messy, and does stain – so be careful as you do this. I put my bowl in the middle of the sink so that the splatter stayed contained.

Return the cranberries to the bowl. Mix 2 tablespoons of sugar (I used whole cane sugar) with the cranberries. If you like your cranberries sweeter, you can choose to add more sugar.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and then turn it off. Spread the cranberries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place it in the warm oven.

Leave them overnight. If you want to save energy, time it so that the cranberries are ready to go into the oven right after you’ve used it to make dinner. If necessary (i.e., the cranberries aren’t quite dry enough) heat up the oven again (take the cranberries out while you do this) and repeat the drying process for a few more hours.

When finished you will have dried, slightly sweetened, cranberries. Two cups of cranberries makes about one cup of dried cranberries. Now I'm off to make those cookies!


Gratefulfoodie said...

You are my baking/cooking queen. I love cranberries too and hate all the sulfites and things added to dried fruits.

I didn't realize I can still find cranberries in the store. I'll go in hot pursuit tomorrow!

Your details are well appreciated by someone like me!

Unknown said...

I just said earlier today, "I wish I knew what to do with the rest of these cranberries (left-over from my holiday sangria recipe)!". You've answered my question. I'll dry them of course. Thank you for the great idea!

Colette said...

Glad you both like the idea. Of course, you could make some cranberry bread too!