Friday, March 2, 2012

Homemade Oven- Dried Cranberries

It all started as I was trying to find some roasted garlic that I had frozen a few months ago.

During my quest, I came across things I had frozen YEARS ago.

Freezer-burnt beyond recognition, of course.

That meant it was time to clean out the freezer.

I found six (!!!) 12-ounce bags of frozen cranberries.  (Food hoarding: it's a little problem I have.)

Since I had just paid $4 for a 5 ounce bag of dried cranberries, I decided I needed to find a way to dry them at home.

Without any special equipment.

A quick Google search yielded this simple recipe.

It was a success!

I am going to try it with blueberries and strawberries next.


Rinse fresh (or thawed) cranberries well, 
picking out and removing any damaged or soft ones.

 Place cranberries in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet.

 Make a simple syrup (dissolve sugar in water).

Pour syrup over cranberries,
And cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes until cranberries begin to pop.

 Mash them down with a spoon. 
(The more liquid you get out of them now, the better they will dry.)

Prepare a baking sheet by layering 3 paper towels,

and setting a sheet of parchment paper on top.

Spread mushed cranberries on the parchment paper.
(Don't'll be able to separate them when they've dried.)
And bake at 150 degrees for 6-8 hours.   (It's a long time, I know.)

The results:  they tasted great, I was able to control the amount of sugar, I freed up some freezer space, and I felt so dang resourceful. 

Increase/decrease amount of sugar
Add some orange juice while you're cooking the cranberries
Use different berries

Making this recipe with a 12-ounce bag of cranberries yielded about one large handful of dried berries.  This is definitely something to make in bulk.  

Here's the printable recipe.

Homemade Oven-Dried Cranberries 
Yield - about 1 very large handful (Doubling or tripling recipe recommended)

1 (12-ounce) bag cranberries, rinsed, and brown/shriveled berries discarded
1/4 cup water*
1/2 cup sugar*

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small sauce pan, prepare the simple syrup by dissolving the sugar in the boiling water.  Stir until no granules of sugar remains.  

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, spread cranberries out in 1 layer.  Pour simple syrup over berries.  Stir well.  Berries will begin to soften and pop as they heat.  (It's kind of messy, so you might want to hold a pot lid as a bit of a sheild over the skillet.)  Use the back of a wooden spoon to gently pop the softened berries (this helps speed up the process).
When all berries have been popped, remove skillet from heat.

Line a large baking sheet with a layer of 3 paper towels.  Set a piece of parchment paper over the paper towels.

Spread cooked cranberries over parchment.  (Don't'll be able to separate them after they dry.)

Reduce the oven to 150 degrees F.  Place berries in oven.

Start checking on the berries after 6 hours (I baked mine for 8 hours.)  Baking times will vary depending on the humidity in your kitchen, your oven, etc.  

When they are dried to your satisfaction, use a flat, sturdy spatula to scrape the berries from the parchment.  Separate them and let them sit out until they are cool.  

Store in a zipper-lock plastic bag or in another well-covered location.  (I do not know how long the shelf-life is as we have already eaten almost all of this batch!)

*Using 1/2 cup of sugar yields a fairly tart dried berry.  If you like yours on the sweeter side, increase the sugar to 1 cup and use 1/2 cup of water to prepare the simple syrup.

Recipe from here.


Unknown said...

I have wanted to make dried cranberries for so long, but everything I read said it was too hard since they have so much water. What you have done looks totally easy. Thank you! I love cranberries and use them all year long. I have several cranberry recipes on my blog if you are looking for a way to use them.

Ginny said...

Thanks, Aimee. It was super easy. You just have to plan a day to be home since the oven will be on for up to 8 hours, but once you get them in the oven, you can just go about your day!

I'll check out your cranberry recipes! We are big c-berry fans over here.

Caneel said...

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm ........

Anonymous said...

Can you use maple syrup instead of the sugar syrup?