My love for cranberries extends far beyond the sauce (or chutney or jello mold, depending on where you’re from) you typically find on Thanksgiving tables.
I’ve been known to buy a bag or two when Costco has dried cranberries on sale, but I really go crazy in November because it’s the only time of year I can get them fresh and in bulk.
What, is 3 pounds of fresh cranberries too much for one person?
Hogwash. There’s no such thing as “too much cranberries” in my opinion. Multiple bags of fresh cranberries make their way into my cart and ultimately my freezer so that I can enjoy them year round.
Did you know you could do that, by the way? Freeze cranberries whole?
My only problem though, if you could even call it that, is figuring out what to do with the cranberries. While I do love cranberries, I do have a small freezer.
I’ve also noticed that the sales on dried cranberries at Costco are a lot less frequent than they used to me.
A few years ago, dried cranberries were on sale like clockwork. Just when I was about to run out, they’d be on sale again.
Sometimes this past year though, I ran out and there wasn’t a sale to fill the void in my pantry. I waited a month, but still no sale.
I settled for raisins as a temporary fill-in, thinking SURELY someone was asleep behind the sale cycle wheel over at Costco and that they’d wake up in time for dried cranberries to be on sale next month.
ONE WHOLE YEAR has gone by without dried cranberries being on sale at Costco. Folks, this is a travesty in my house. And it needed to be remedied ASAP!
So this year, I bought a big bag and made my own dried cranberries!
How to Dehydrate Cranberries
- fresh cranberries
- pot or bowl
- dehydrator (we have this one)
- sugar (optional)
There are two basic methods for dehydrating cranberries.
(1) Berries in a Pot Method
Fill a large pot halfway with water. The number of cranberries you’re dehydrating will determine the size pot you need. I used a medium pot for 1 cup of cranberries. Remember that you can always do this in batches, if need be.
Bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the cranberries and set the timer for 2 minutes. When the timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to remove the cranberries to a colander to strain. The berries should be “popped” so to speak.
Repeat this process if you’re working in batches.
This is the method I used.
(2) Berries in Bowl Method
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, place cranberries in a large bowl.
When the water is boiling, pour over cranberries and set the timer for 2 minutes. When the timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to remove the cranberries to a colander to strain.
Repeat this process if you’re working in batches.
For either method:
If you want your cranberries to be less tart, you will need to sprinkle 1 Tbsp of sugar per 1 cup of cranberries. Add to the cranberries while in the colander and mix well.
Lay the cranberries on a single layer on the dehydrating tray. Set the dehydrator to 135F and check on the cranberries at the 8 hour mark. Mine were done at 9 hours or so, but every machine is different and can take up to 12 hours.
Additional Recipe Notes
You don’t HAVE to boil the cranberries first before dehydrating, but it makes the dehydrating time MUCH faster. I had a couple of rogue cranberries that didn’t “pop” in the water and after the 12 hour mark in the dehydrator, they had barely changed in size.
1 cup of fresh cranberries = 1/4 cup dried cranberries
Fresh cranberries are running $3.69 for 2 pounds at Costco (12¢/ounce). A 12 ounce bag is $2.50 at the local grocery store (21¢/ounce). Right off the bat, it’s cheaper to buy them in bulk whenever you can with $1.92 per pound being the best price I’ve seen.
1 cup of fresh cranberries is about 4 ounces (there are 6, 1/2 cup servings in a 12 ounce bag). If you buy them in bulk, you’re paying 46¢ per 1 cup of fresh cranberries. This equates to 46¢ per 1/4 cup of dried cranberries.
At Costco, the big bags of dried cranberries are 48 ounces and there are 34 servings (1/4 cup each) in each bag. The best price I’ve seen recently is $6.79. That makes each serving 20¢.
The bottom line = it’s cheaper to buy dried cranberries than to make them yourself!
There is a catch though – the packaged dried cranberries are sweetened. When you make them at home yourself, you control the amount of sugar you add – from plenty of sweet to none at all. I prefer them to be slightly sweet, but definitely not as sweet as the packaged ones. It’s kind of a toss up for me really on buying versus making!
If you can get fresh cranberries for 80¢ per pound or less, than you break even or save when you dehydrate them yourself.
Of course, if you don’t have access to dried cranberries in bulk, this will effect your math too.
More Dehydrating Tutorials
Do you love cranberries? What’s your favorite cranberry dish?
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