In the oven, or food dehydrator, anyone can dry cranberries! I'll go over exactly how to dry cranberries using the easiest, most convenient methods available.
Reasons to dry cranberries
- You have leftover cranberries from the holidays that you didn't use, and need to do something with them.
- The store bought dried cranberries have more sugar than you'd like.
- Dried cranberries can last for up to one year in the pantry!
- You can use them on salads like this one, or snack on them in a trail mix, or swap them for raisins in muffins and bread recipes.
- They are good for gut health and can aid in digestion, according to may medical publications.
What you need
This "recipe" is standard for about a half pound (8 ounces, or the size of most store bought bags of cranberries). However, you can increase it depending on how many cranberries you have.
You can cut the sugar down for a less sweet dried cranberry. Keep in mind that these are already much less sweet than the store bought dried cranberries. You'll likely want them somewhat sweetened, because completely unsweetened cranberries can be very bitter and difficult to eat.
If you have a food dehydrator, that is the easiest method. If you don't, don't worry! You can dry cranberries in the oven, and the recipe is exactly the same.
I highly recommend you also use parchment paper. Or, if you have a nonstick mat, like a Silpat mat, that's just fine too. Drying cranberries can be a very sticky affair, and you'll need something to prevent sticking.
How to do it
Rinse the cranberries just to remove any unwanted material. Drain them in a colander and pat them dry, or allow them to air dry. Place them in a heat safe bowl (something that can tolerate boiling water).
Meanwhile, heat up the sugar solution. This doesn't only serve to sweeten the cranberries. It also is meant to split them open, which helps them to release more moisture as they dehydrate.
In a sauce pan, combine the sugar and water on medium high heat, stirring once or twice. The sugar will dissolve and the liquid will turn crystal clear.
Pour the hot sugar water over the cranberries in a heat safe bowl. I like to use a stainless steel mixing bowl for this. Give the cranberries a little stir to coat them with the sugar water.
Allow them to steep for 10-20 minutes, until the cranberries split open around on or all sides. You may have to turn some of them over to see where they split. If some didn't, just pierce them with a sharp knife.
Once the cranberries have split, use a slotted spoon to fish them out, or strain them in a colander again over the sink to allow the excess to drip off.
Transfer them to the food dehydrator or prepared baking sheet using one of the following methods:
Prepare a baking sheet (or two) by lining it with parchment paper, followed by a cooling rack, and then another piece of parchment paper.
The parchment paper on the bottom catches drips, the cooling rack elevates the cranberries which aids in air circulation underneath, and the top piece of parchment paper keeps them from sticking.
Dry the cranberries in the oven at the lowest setting, 135-150 degrees Fahrenheit (57-65 degrees Celsius), depending on your oven. On many ovens, the lowest setting is higher than this. If that is the case, use the lowest temperature and crack the oven door slightly.
Food dehydrator method
Scatter the sweetened, split cranberries on a nonstick layer in a food dehydrator, or line a layer with parchment paper.
Dry on 135 degrees Fahrenheit (57 degrees Celsius) for 8-12 hours.
When are they done?
This process will take 8-10 hours. When the cranberries have shriveled up they can be tested for dryness.
Remove a couple, let them cool for 10 minutes and break them apart. If there is no juice, they are done. If there is juice, give them another hour at a time.
The cranberries should not get to the point of being hard, that's over done. Those are cooked.
Don't be tempted to turn up the heat because they'll cook around the edges. Remember-we are not cooking them, we are just drying them. You only need enough heat to dry them out.
Did you try either of these methods? Leave a comment below and let us know!
How to Dry Cranberries
- Oven or Food Dehydrator
- parchment paper
- Sauce pan or microwave safe bowl
- 8 ounces whole cranberries
- 1 cup sugar (note, you will be draining most of this off)
- 2 cups water
- Combine the water and sugar in a sauce pan and heat on medium high heat until almost simmering, stirring occasionally.
- Pour over rinsed, dry cranberries in a heat safe bowl, stir.
- Allow cranberries to steep for 10-20 minutes until sides split. Pierce any unsplit cranberries with a sharp knife.
- Drain, or remove steeped cranberries with a slotted spoon and arrange on prepared baking tray lined with parchment paper and cooling rack, or food dehydrator tray.
- Dehydrate in oven or food dehydrator at 135 degrees for 8-10 hours, or lowest setting of oven with door cracked (if over 150 degrees).
- Cranberries are done when no moisture remains when they are pulled apart.
- Store covered in the pantry or fridge in a tightly sealed glass jar, shaking twice a day for one week to "condition" the cranberries. If condensation or moisture appears on the sides of the container, they aren't full dry and need to be dried further.
- Store in pantry or fridge for up to 1 year.
- Sugar amount can be adjusted up or down to taste.
- If using the oven method, and the oven doesn't go below 150 degrees, crack the oven door.
- Condition the cranberries when done, by storing in a tightly sealed jar, shaking twice a day for a week. If condensation or moisture appears on the sides of the container, they are not dry, and the must be removed and let to dehydrate for another hour or two until fully dehydrated.
- Once dry, store in the pantry for up to one year, or the fridge for 18 months.