How To Dehydrate Cranberries

how-to-dehydrate-cranberries

I love cranberries. The other day I dehydrated about 7 pounds of cranberries which were on sale. They reduced to fit in two and a half quart size canning jars afterwards. I snapped a few pictures and decided to share the simple secrets how to dehydrate cranberries…


 
Except for raw cranberries which are typically available in 12-oz bags, the soft raisin-like cranberries you find in stores are processed first, usually with lots of sugar added. While this may please the sweet tooth, it is not the healthiest for you compared with raw unadulterated cranberries, which are themselves a bit tart.

Occasionally I enjoy adding them to hot oatmeal, salads, or even breads or muffins. Since it is difficult to find cranberries without the added processed sugar, I decided to buy them raw and dehydrate them for longer term storage. I discovered that the process of dehydrating them can be slightly tricky for optimal results, and here is what I learned…

 
Note that dehydrated cranberries are not going to be of the same soft pliable raisin-like texture as partially dehydrated and processed store-bought varieties like ‘Craisins’, which are commercially produced dried cranberries containing added sugar and coated in vegetable oil to keep them from sticking together.

I dehydrate cranberries until most of the moisture has been removed, and are still slightly pliable. This way I am assured that they will store longer (than if they were too soft-moist).

 
To dehydrate…

In a pot, bring water to a boil. I use about 1 quart of water per 12-ounce bag of raw cranberries.

When the water is boiling, dump in the raw cranberries and start a timer. It is important to wait until the water has boiled BEFORE dumping in the cranberries. I’ve tried it the other way and the cranberries just turn to mush.

It only takes 2 to 3 minutes once you’ve dumped them in. You will immediately begin to hear them popping as their skins split. If the skins don’t split open, then they will not dehydrate properly.

Trick #1… If they boil too long, they will turn to mush (which does not ruin them, but just makes for a different dehydrated result – cranberry patties of mush). I have found that 3 minutes is about the maximum. Once they split open, they begin to absorb water and soften rapidly. Not enough and they will be too hard. Too much, and you get mush.

boil-cranberries-to-break-skins

Okay, between 2 and 3 minutes, dump them into a strainer.

Trick #2… Depending on how split they look and how water-soaked they are, you might consider using a spatula-spoon to slightly press-crush them. Not too much though… This will help the dehydrating process.

Then, simply lay them out on your dehydrator trays. Using my Excalibur, I set the temperature for 135 degrees (use setting for fruits) and begin checking them after 12 hours. I have found it takes about 16 hours, sometimes longer depending on how soaked the cranberries were.

Afterwards, for maximum long term storage, you could store them in vacuum sealed bags or vacuum sealed canning jars (that’s how I store them).

dehydrated-cranberries

 
To rehydrate…

They take longer than other foods, and will not return to how they were after cooking. They will at best regain a somewhat tough raisin-like texture. An exception is if you drop them in boiling water (as in making hot oatmeal with the oats) they will soften up nicely.

Otherwise soak in a bowl for at least 30 minutes (longer is better) to be used garnishing salads, etc.

 
Enjoy the natural unprocessed and tart flavor of cranberries!

Condensed tannins in cranberries inhibit the oxidation of bad cholesterol, thereby protecting the body from atherosclerosis.

Tannins are considered an important contributor to a healthy heart.

Cranberries act as bactericide and affect the acidity of urine. In effect, they disrupt the development of kidney stones and are known to help prevent urinary tract infections.

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33 Comments

  1. Ken, why couldnt you just put them, raw, on a dehydrator tray, and dehydrate to desired chewiness/cripsness?

    i did that with frozen blueberries i got on sale, and it worked well.

    also, when you put them in the water/heat, doesnt a fair bit of nutrients go with the water?

    1. The cranberry skins, although thin, are a tough barrier which acts as a ‘seal’, a barrier to what is inside and a barrier to effectively dehydrating the contents of the berry. It has been my experience that they will not dehydrate properly unless that skin is split open. I have not yet tried blueberries, but I will make a point of trying it!

      Regarding your question of the water-heat losing nutrients, since it is for such a short time, I found that the residual water in the pan has not absorbed too much of the ‘red’ from the cranberries. When I’ve cooked them longer, I would save the water and drink it!

      1. Ken, thks,
        i understand. and good idea to drink the water.

        if i find some froz on sale, as i do too from time to time, i will give it a try with cranberries, to dehydrate. am thinking there may be some easy way to prick/split skin (rather than going to work of cutting in half as Tammy suggests, which of course would work too).

        maybe if someone had one of those “pointy” mallets, with lots of spike type things sticking out, (seen such a thing), you could whack the frozen cranberries a few times ?

    2. If…and I say that with reservation…you can find about an hour, I sat and slit (3 bags) each berry to ensure to break the seal, than without the blanching step dried them raw…some resealed but was successful getting them dried for storage.Blanching only made a mess for me personally. As always…your choice…good luck!

  2. I just cut the berries in half. They dry well that way, and it doesn’t take any longer than blanching. I also cut grapes and other berries to dry.

      1. I am pretty good with a knife ;), but I meant start to finish, boiling the water and washing everything after. I cut the berries directly onto the dryer trays, so no bowl or pan or anything to clean up.

        1. thank you so much for posting this. i was wondering if i could dry them without boiling first and was thinking of cutting them. I had to do that one year with figs to get them to dry completely. Now i know it will work…time to get busy, thanks again!

  3. Hey Ken, great article thanks so much. I have a question though, I’m new to drying/dehydrating so just want to clarify – do you plunk frozen cranberries in the boiling water or only once they’re thawed? I’ve seen mixed reports on this so don’t want to waste a bunch of berries doing it wrong (especially living in AZ where they’re only available in November). Thanks so much!

  4. Hi Ken,

    I must be really horrible at dehydrating cranberries because I have followed your directions and I just end up with dried up crunchy almost burnt tasting cranberries. I can’t seem to find the fine line when they are done before they are over done. I’m bummed…

    1. i doubt that you are terrible at dehydrating. When i had that problem of burnt tasting dried fruit it was because the dehydrator i owned at the the time had no temp control and it basically cooked the food. Now with my excaliber i can dry at extremely low heat. I think the lowest is 95 degrees and that is great for most things that i dry with the exception of jerky, i dry meat at a much higher temp.

  5. I was so excited to see a how to make dried cranberries without added sugar. Thanks! I think I will try this boil method with my cherry tomatoes next time for more even drying and a shorter drying time.

  6. Yummy! I’m going to Dehydrate my frozen cranberries I’m excited thank you for the info.

  7. Just a thought on drying whole cranberries in a dehydrator – what you end up with are hard, dry cranberries. Totally inedible. Trust me, I’ve tried it. It wasn’t a total waste, though – I tossed them into a mason jar with dried orange slices, tied some pretty plaid fabric ribbon around the lid and it’s been a nice decorative piece for years. :-)

    I’m going to be following the instructions here to dehydrate my own cranberries this week. I have some oxygen absorber packets that I use to keep my dehydrated veggies dry – do you suggest placing one in the jar with the cranberries?

    1. if you don’t like how they rehydrate,

      try, once they are dehydrated, powdering them in a blender. bet the powder would be great in hot drinks, and to add to anything. should keep well that way too.

  8. I should have clarified what I was saying – you are exactly right to recommend piercing the skin or giving them a quick boil to pop the skins, because if you just put whole, raw cranberries in the dehydrator, what you end up with is hard cranberries – not edible. That’s what I was saying. Sorry for the confusion.

  9. Ken, do you rinse with cold water after the 3 minute boil or put straight in to dehydrator?

      1. I found cranberries on clearance last week. I guess they ordered too many for Christmas. Dehydrating 10 lbs! Thanks for the info.

  10. I have looked for cranberries without sunflower oil and could not find them. I bought two mesh bags of fresh cranberries to dehydrate. Do I need to coat them with anything before dehydrating???(either with the cut and dry method or the blanch method.)

  11. I have looked for cranberries without sunflower oil and could not find them. I bought two mesh bags of fresh cranberries to dehydrate. Do I need to coat them with anything before dehydrating???(either with the cut and dry method or the blanch method.)

  12. I found that boiling them is very messy and hard to separate the cranberries on the tray. I have started steaming them. I steam approx. one cup at a time for approx. 4 mins (till the skins pop) and they dry nicely.

  13. Before I had the internet I was completely clueless about dehydrating, but I did it anyway. I had a very basic dehydrator with no temperature settings and no instruction manual. I used to dehydrate the whole berries without doing anything to them. They took days…and days…but they turned out fine for my muffins. They were delicate seemingly empty shells that were still very nice little smooth balls the size of the original cranberries. No wrinkles or anything. I know more now, and it is so much more efficient to use these methods! Live and learn.

  14. So I have a whole dehydrator of whole dried cranberries that are like popcorn now. Can I still use them or have I ruined them?

    1. Novice Chef,
      If they’re dry, they’re good to go. Taste one. Are they dry inside? Do you like it? Then keep it ;)

      Again, make sure they’re dry. If they need more time, give them more dry time. That’s the key.

    2. Novice Chef…you got a few suggestions, likely will work…

      but if you want to try something else, here’s different suggestion..

      Put a couple cups of them in a strong blender/food processer, and pulse/blend on high until you have powder. The powder will also keep well/could be put in bags in freezer.

      Powder will likely make a great drink (powder in cup, pour in boiling water and stir), or add powder to most anything for taste/extra nutrients/etc. Sprinkle powder on top of cake topping (whipped or icing) for pretty effect. Mix powder into cakes/muffins/etc..

      don’t chuck out

      1. Novice Chef

        Grind those suckers into a powder, add to water, BINGO, a tasty drink.!!

        I don’t like the taste of water, so I mix different kinds of organic powder, from fruits I collect in the wild, to add for taste I like.

        Jane Fox has excellent advice, I suggest you at least try that advice.

  15. i would say put them in a dry jar… take out 10-12 and drop some water on them let sit for 30 min. try them,,, then 40 min, then try them, 50 min… try.. you will discover if they are good for you or for chickens… and how long they take to rehydrate. write rehydration time on jar. general just barely cover with water. let sit 45 mn, for most foods.

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