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Making dried sweetened cranberries @ home


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#1 peanutgirl

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 05:39 PM

Today I accompanied my daughter's 4th grade class on a trip here. Very informative, learned a LOT about cranberries, harvesting, history and all that fun stuff.

The children were also given the opportunity to dry pick some of what's left of the berries out in the drained bogs.

Her teacher, knowing that I love to cook and send in lesson related food items ( i.e. home smoked salmon & dried apples for their Lenape feast last winter) asked for suggestions on what to do with what they had gathered. Aside from cookies, breads cranberry relish etc. , I said I'd look into how to make home made Craisins.

I have a food dehydrator, so that's the easy part. How do I get them sweetened? I'm thinking along the lines of soaking them in simple syrup, drain and then dehydrate.

Any help, experience in making, and suggestions are much anticipated :smile: .

#2 andiesenji

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 08:31 PM

You have to actually cook them a little so the skin breaks, otherwise they will never dry, just get hard like a marble.
You will need enough simple syrup, half strength, or less, figure 3/4 cup sugar to a cup of water.
Bring to a high simmer, not quite boiling.
Pour in the washed and cleaned cranberries, stir well, let the heat come back up till you can see a few bubbles, 3 minutes or so.
Stir again to bring the bottom berries up to the top. As soon as you can see about half of them popped, remove from heat and leave in the syrup for 30 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon or strainer, lift the berries out of the syrup and spread on your dehydrator screen over a sheet pan to catch drips.
As soon as most of the syrup has dripped off the berries, place into the dehydrator.
Shake the trays every 8 hours or so to keep them from sticking in place.
They are done when they have shrunk a bit more than half their original size and are still a bit soft but not too tacky.
Taste is important.
Do a small batch first to see how they turn out then do the rest, making adjustments as needed. Some cranberries are exceptionally tart and may need more sugar 1:1 ratio instead of 3/4:1.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
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#3 jgm

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 09:36 PM

Andie, I want to be you when I grow up!

I might have guessed you'd know how to do this. You give me something to strive for.

#4 peanutgirl

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 05:38 AM

Thank you Andie. I didn't think cooking them would be a factor in dehyrating, but thanks for the tip.

I'll pass along this info to my daughter. Perhaps along with the suggestion that they try the experiment both ways... cooked / sweetened and just plain raw the way they picked them. That should be an interesting comparison for the class I would think. Even if the raw ones turn out "hard as marbles :wink: .

#5 lcdm

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 06:29 AM

I found this on another message board:

CRANRAISINS:

Saute cranberries in brown sugar and butter until the skins break. Add a little honey and stir. The secret is the broken skin that allows the sweetness from the brown sugar and honey to get inside the cranberry. Then dehydrate. It takes a lot of cranberries to make a little bag of raisins!

#6 andiesenji

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 10:43 AM

Here is another suggestion for quicker drying.

Another suggestion is to cut them in half but that seems to me to be extremely time consuming.

I do a lot of dehydrating in two large Excalibur units - there are a lot of tricks I have learned over the years.
With fruits that discolor, such as apples, a bath in 7-up or similar soda (I actually use the store brand) works as well as a solution made with Fruit Fresh (or whatever the stuff is now called) or Vitamin C powder, which some people recommend.

Berries can be tricky, you have to have the right balance of heat and air to get them to the perfect finish and each batch is different.
However blueberries are fairly easy and have a high sugar content. Even the frozen ones dry well and are very sweet when finished.
Grapes, particularly the Red Flame Seedless, with particularly high sugar content, are the easiest and the result is the most consistent.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

#7 peanutgirl

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 10:52 PM

Thanks to everyone for the help and links.

Andie, if the class takes the time to cut each berry in half and do the plain sour :blink: berry experiment... timing etc... we can still cook the dried ones into SOMTETHING yes???

I would think so , but you have experience and I'm new drying cranberries :smile: .

Edited by peanutgirl, 25 October 2005 - 10:55 PM.


#8 andiesenji

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 11:24 AM

Thanks to everyone for the help and links.

Andie, if the class takes the time to cut each berry in half and do the plain sour      :blink: berry experiment... timing etc...  we can still cook the dried ones into SOMTETHING yes???

I would think so , but you have experience and I'm new drying cranberries  :smile: .

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If they are very hard it is very difficult to get them to absorb moisture. I have tried without success with the whole berries, never with the ones cut in half.
It is the sugar content that keeps dried fruit flexible and edible. The sugar works on the cellular level.
You can see how this works especially with freezing fruits like strawberries. Frozen alone, they shrivel and become dry and hard and completely mushy when thawed.
If you add some sugar they will freeze and then thaw in much better condition. Same with drying unless they have a very high sugar content - however barely ripe strawberries dry better than those that are fully ripe.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening