Rosey the Riveter

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dried Cranberries

Many people who are new to dehydrating assume that they can pop whole cranberries in their dehydrator and get 'craisins' out of the deal.  You know what they say about assuming!  The truth is, craisins are loaded in sugar...
1/3 of a cup of processed craisins contains 123 calories, while 1/3 of a cup of home-dehydrated cranberries contains only about 42 calories (by my calculations... I dehydrated 7 bags at 180 calories per bag and got 10 cups of dried berries, which yields 126 calories/cup) It's the added sugar that helps keep the texture of craisins more like raisins.
Dehydrating cranberries at home, sans sugar, results in bits of crispy, crunchy, sour goodness that are fantastic in muffins, scones, breads, etc.  If you click on the picture above, you might be able to see there's quite a difference between the craisins on the left and the home-dried cranberries on the right.

The process is quite simple.  Rinse your cranberries in a colander and pick out any remaining stems you can see.  Working in batches, give the berries a few whirls in the food processor, which will break them up and make them dry much faster.  Spread them out, in as close to a single layer as possible, on your tray.  I use the fruit-roll liner on top of the plastic tray just because it presents little bits from falling through once they are dried.
If you have a temperature control on your dehydrator, set it to 135 and let it go... when the berries are crispy, they are thoroughly dried.  Be sure to remove any whole/mostly whole cranberries that didn't dry, as they could cause mold.  Store in an airtight container out of direct sunlight.

Use in any recipe calling for dried cranberries.  There's no need to rehydrate them beforehand.

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