Sugar free cranberries dried make a beautiful nutritious garnish. Let me show you how to dehydrate fresh cranberries for your fall recipes.
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Sugar free cranberries dried make some of the most beautiful garnishes, especially during the fall and winter holiday season. They are also very nutritious if made correctly, and when you dehydrate fresh cranberries they will continue to hold their nutritional value.
Most commercially available dried cranberries, or craisins as they are often called, are made with a lot of sugar and processed oils but they don’t have to be, and it is not complicated to make dried cranberries sugar free.
I like to dehydrate fresh cranberries because it is so not labor intensive, as well as dehydrating cranberries helps to hold their nutritional value. Making sugar free cranberries dried in a dehydrator uses lower heat than you would if you were to make them in the oven.
Harvesting cranberries most commonly happen mid-September through early November, and there are two ways to harvest cranberries, dry harvesting or wet harvesting.
Dry harvesting is a method where the farmer uses a walk-behind machine, called a mechanical picker, to comb the berries off the vines, where they then get conveyed into a burlap bag or wooden box. The bags or boxes of cranberries get transferred to trucks and sent to receiving stations to then be cleaned and graded.
Dry harvested cranberries are the ones you see in grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and road-side stands.
Wet harvesting requires flooding the cranberry bogs and then using a machine, called a “beater”, to push down the vines and dislodge the cranberries.
The cranberries then float to the surface of the water. They float because they are hollow inside and have tiny pocket of air…very cool!
The cranberries then get rounded up using plastic or wooden booms, and are either pumped into a truck or lifted by a conveyor. Then, similar to the dry harvest, the cranberries get sent to a receiving station for cleaning and grading.
More than 90% of cranberries are wet harvested, and these cranberries get used for juice, sauces, dried cranberries, or ingredients in other processed foods.
5 Healthy Cranberry Benefits
Cranberries are 90% water and contain a good amount of fiber. They also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, E, K, and manganese.
There are many good reasons to eat cranberries but here are my top 5 reasons.
- Anti-inflammatory – cranberries contain high amounts of antioxidants which have been shown to reduce the risk of some chronic diseases due to their anti-inflammatory effect.
- Heart health – cranberries help to improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels.
- Protect against cancer – cranberries contain high amounts of antioxidants, and one particular powerful antioxidant, a-type proanthocyanins, is being studied to see if and how it may prevent cancer.
- Research is also being done on a-type proanthocyanidins, which is only found in cranberries, to see if it may help prevent specifically colon and gastrointestinal cancers.
- Digestive health – cranberries help to reduce the bad microbes in your gut, as well as they help to replenish the good bacteria in your digestive system.
- Prevent UTIs – cranberries can help to prevent urinary tract infections however, they don’t actually treat the infection if you already have it. A-type proanthocyanidins prevent E. coli from binding in the bladder, which it usually the first step in developing a UTI.
Types & Varieties of Cranberries
You may have thought a cranberry is a cranberry, but there are several types and varieties of cranberries around the world.
Vaccinium Macrocarpon Ait., the American cranberry, is a native berry to North America.
Vaccinium Oxycoccus L., is the European cranberry and is smaller and, more often than not, speckled.
The United States grow over 100 varieties of cranberries, with Wisconsin and Massachusetts carrying the highest yield.
Recipe Tips For How To Dehydrate Fresh Cranberries
Always be careful when handling fresh cranberries to avoid smashing and breaking them apart, otherwise you will have cranberry sauce and not dried whole fruit! 😉
The time in the dehydrator will depend on a number of things. How well you’ve dried the cranberries after draining, how big or small your cranberries are, and how hot you put your dehydrator.
Notes About The Recipe
I like to use avocado oil because it is a pretty neutral oil without a lot of flavor so the taste of the cranberries comes shining through. That said, you can also use olive oil.
If you want to avoid oils all together, you can do that too. I try to use as little oil as possible – just a true pinch – like 1/4-1/2tsp.
I find the 135°F temperature works well but to create a “raw food” type dried cranberry then put your temperature to 105°F. You will then however have to extend the drying time for several more hours.
Handy Kitchen Tools For Dried Sugar Free Cranberries
- Dehydrator – this dehydrator is one of my favorite kitchen tools. It is great fun to make healthy snacks, and it is one of those tools where you literally set it and leave it – LOVE that!
- Silicone dehydrator sheets – for a while I did not have these dehydrator sheets, and I felt limited with the kinds of snacks I could make using my dehydrator. Now that I own a set, I wished I would have bought them sooner.
- Large Pot – to steam up and soften the cranberries. These are exceptional pots and pans, and I use my set almost every single day.
Dried Sugar Free Cranberries – Ingredients
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries – best to get the freshest you can find. September through November is peak cranberry season.
- 1/2 cup monk fruit – this is a plant-based sweetener that does not spike your blood glucose like regular sugar does. I use it quite often when I am trying to minimize my sugar intake.
- 1/2 cup orange juice – organic fresh squeezed is always best but mainly look for orange juice that is pure, without any additional ingredients.
- 1 pinch avocado oil – we are talking a true pinch, like 1/4-1/2 teaspoon. A little goes a long way.
Sugar Free Cranberries Dried – Preparation
Prepare dehydrator by making sure trays are clean and lined with silicone non-stick dehydrator sheets.
Set dehydrator to 135°F.
Sugar Free Cranberries Dried – Directions
Bring a medium pot of filtered water to a boil.
Add orange juice and stir to dissolve.
Remove from the burner, and add cranberries – do not boil cranberries.
Allow the cranberries to sit for approximately 10 minutes, or until they begin to pop.
Drain water, and transfer cranberries to a large bowl of ice water to cool and preserve color.
Drain cranberries a second time, and blot off any excess water, being careful not to smash or break apart the cranberries.
Place cranberries in a large bowl, and add monk fruit and a splash of avocado oil.
Gently toss to coat cranberries evenly.
Spread berries onto lined dehydrator trays.
Place trays into the dehydrator for 10-12 hours, or until thoroughly dry inside and out.
How To Store
It is best to store cranberries in a tightly sealed glass or BPA free plastic container.
They are shelf stable for 1-2 months. Store in a dark enclosed area, like your pantry cupboard.
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VIDEO: Sugar Free Cranberries Dried – Step by Step Directions
Printable Recipe For You To Enjoy
Sugar Free Cranberries Dried – How To Dehydrate Fresh Cranberries
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup monk fruit
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 pinch avocado oil
- Prepare dehydrator by making sure trays are clean and lined with silicone non-stick sheets.
- Set dehydrator to 135°F
- Bring a medium pot of filtered water to a boil.
- Add orange juice and stir to dissolve.
- Remove from the burner, and add cranberries – do not boil cranberries.
- Allow the cranberries to sit for approximately 10min, or until they begin to pop.
- Drain water, and transfer cranberries to a large bowl of ice water to cool and preserve color.
- Drain cranberries a second time, and blot off any excess water being careful not to smash or break apart the cranberries.
- Place cranberries in a large bowl, and add monk fruit and a splash of avocado oil.
- Gently toss to coat cranberries evenly.
- Spread berries onto lined dehydrator trays.
- Place trays into the dehydrator for 10-12 hours, or until thoroughly dry inside and out.
- Always be careful when handling the cranberries to avoid smashing and breaking them apart, otherwise you will have cranberry sauce and not dried whole fruit! 😉
- I like to use avocado oil because it is a pretty neutral oil without a lot of flavor so the taste of the cranberries comes shining through. That said, you can also use olive oil.
- If you want to avoid oils all together, you can do that too. I try to use as little oil as possible – just a true pinch – like 1/4-1/2tsp.
- The time on the dehydrator will depend on a number of things. How well you have dried off the cranberries after draining, how big or small your cranberries are, and how hot you put your dehydrator.
- I have found the 135°F temperature works well but if you are wanting to create more of a “raw food” type cranberry, then keep your temperature at 105°F, however the drying time will then have to be extended several more hours.
- Once these cranberries are fully dried and dehydrated, they are best stored in a tightly sealed glass container. They are shelf stable for 1-2 months. Store in a dark enclosed area, like your pantry cupboard.