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Cranberries are a flavorful source of vitamin C and delicious when added to meals, baked goods and cold salads. While cranberries are seasonal in autumn, you can enjoy them all year around. One way to preserve fresh cranberries is to dry them. Dried cranberries can be stored in your pantry for several months and used as is or reconstituted for baked goods and other recipes.
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Set the cranberries on the counter and allow them to come to room temperature if they were in the refrigerator. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. While the water is coming to a boil, fill a large bowl one-third of the way with ice cubes and one-third of the way with water.
Pour the fresh cranberries into the boiling water for 20 seconds. Dump the cranberries and water into a colander in the kitchen sink when the timer goes off, then immediately pour the cranberries into the bowl of ice water and allow them to sit for a minute. The process of boiling the cranberries then submerging them in ice water is called "checking the skins" and helps speed the drying process.
Transfer the cranberries to a bowl and cover with cranberry juice. Soaking the cranberries in juice pretreats the berries, preparing them for drying. Allow the berries to soak for three to five minutes, then drain them in your colander.
Spray a thin coat of baking spray on the food dehydrator trays. This helps to keep the natural sugars in the cranberries from causing the cranberries to stick to the trays. Lay the cranberries on the trays in a single layer, making sure the berries are not too close together so there is room for air to circulate around them.
Preheat the food dehydrator, then place trays with cranberries in the dehydrator. Cranberries require 24 to 36 hours to become dry. Test the cranberries for dryness, after 24 hours by cutting one open to make sure there's no moisture left inside.
Remove the food dehydrator trays from the dehydrator and set them on the counter. Allow the cranberries to cool for one hour.
Pour the cooled, dried cranberries into a glass jar with lid, keeping the cranberries in the jar for one week and periodically shaking the jar to move the cranberries around. This process is called conditioning and distributes excess moisture so your cranberries are evenly dehydrated. Once you've conditioned your dried cranberries you can store them, for several months, in an airtight container.
Cranberries can also be dried in the sun or your oven.
Always dry berries that are fresh, ripe and free of bad spots or bruises for the best tasting dried cranberries.
Soak dried cranberries in a bowl of water for an hour to make them extra juicy for baked goods.
If moisture forms inside the container in which you're conditioning your dried cranberries, then the cranberries are not fully dehydrated. Dry the cranberries longer to prevent them from getting moldy, then repeat the conditioning process and store your cranberries.