How To Oven Dry Fresh Cranberries

Dried cranberries are a delicious snack, as well as a nutritious addition to many recipes.  I love sprinkling them on top of salads and using them in my Thanksgiving stuffing.  What I don’t like is the price and all the sugar.

So, I decided to start experimenting with making my own.  This process works pretty well, and you can tweak it quite a bit.  I do think the sugar helps reduce the tartness, but you can omit it entirely if you like.  Give it a try and let me know how it works for you, and please share anything you did to make the recipe work better.

Oven Dried Cranberries

  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 to 3 Tbsp sugar or light corn syrup (optional)

Put the cranberries into a colander and rinse well, then dump out onto a paper towel covered surface to dry and sort.
Pick through the cranberries and remove any that are not plump and ripe.
Fill a large soup pot about 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil.Dried Cranberries

Add the cranberries to the soup pot when the water boils, and watch closely as their skins pop. You’re actually just blanching them so be sure they don’t come back to a rapid boil and cook, but you want all the skins to pop.  Turn the heat down if necessary to keep the water from boiling hard. This process shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Keep the cranberries in the hot water, and stir frequently, until each one breaks open because any left whole won’t dry very well.

Pour the cranberries into a colander to drain.

Now, turn your oven on to 200 degrees so it can preheat.

Put fresh paper towels on your baking sheet in order to dry the cranberries.
Pour the drained cranberries onto the paper towels, then take another sheet of paper towels and lay on top of the cranberries and gently pat dry.  The more moisture you get off at this time will help the drying time.  If you’re adding sugar or corn syrup, now is the time you want to add it.  Sprinkle or drizzle on and use your hands to gently coat all the cranberries.

Prepare a baking sheet for the oven by covering it with several layers of paper towels, then place a piece of parchment paper on top.
Put the cranberries on the parchment paper and spread out into a single layer.

Turn the oven down to 150 degrees and put the cranberries in the oven.
The drying time will be anywhere from 6 to 10 hours, depending on if you want them chewy or crunchy.
Ovens vary, so you want to check on the cranberries often.  Reduce the heat if you need to, or take them out earlier.  Watch them and stir them around occasionally so they dry evenly.

Remove and allow the cranberries to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator to use when you like.

Notes: 

Because the oven is on so long, I double this recipe. One thing to remember, though, is the drying process relies on air circulation.  So you will need to rotate the baking sheets around several times in the oven; switch up and down and spin front and back.

Also, some people who have tried this say freezing the cranberries after blanching them helps prepare them for the drying process.  I haven’t tried that yet.  If you do, let me know how it works.

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Comments

  1. Nicole says

    What a great idea. I never buy the dried ones because of price but am excited to try. Thank you for the idea.

  2. Donna says

    Can you start with frozen cranberries? my oven goes as low as 170 – is that a problem? will they just dry more quickly?

  3. Mike says

    I don’t see why you couldn’t start with frozen ones, you may still need to “pop” the skins, but other than that I think they would work fine. Experiment with them and see if you need to blanch them or if freezing has already done it for you. The higher temperature will tend to make the fruit darker and also shorten the drying time. I used the oven for drying stuff in the past, but now I have a food dehydrator and it is so much better. My fruits and peppers come out with much better color. Since you have you drying device going, fill it up with other stuff too, just keep an eye on the different items, as they have different drying times.

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