You’ll learn how to dry cranberries for decorating and different ways to use dried cranberries in your Holiday decorating.
Dried cranberries can make such a beautiful decoration for your home and gifts during the holiday season. We’ve been pulling our dried cranberries out and using them in our home for many Christmas tours.
As part of our Handmade Christmas Home series I am going to show you my own unique way for drying cranberries that will actually last years. Then I’d like to share with you some ideas of how you can use dried cranberries in your seasonal decor.
WHAT SUPPLIES DO YOU NEED TO DRY CRANBERRIES?
Because cranberries have such a thick skin and are incredibly juicy on the inside, you need something that can dry the cranberries at low heat for a very long time (like multiple days). A food dehydrator is perfect to do this! Here is what you will need:
- Food dehydrator
- Food dehydrator trays
- Parchment paper or tray liners
- Fresh Cranberries
STEP BY STEP GUIDE FOR DRYING FRESH CRANBERRIES
STEP 1: Wash and Dry the Cranberries
When you get your fresh cranberries, give them a good wash and dry them thoroughly.
STEP 2: Place Cranberries on Food Dehydrator Trays
Lay the cranberries out onto a food dehydrator tray and don’t overcrowd them.
It’s actually best if you put down some parchment paper or a tray liner first, so that if there is shrinkage they won’t fall through the tray holes.
You could also layer in other fruit if you have it – like oranges or apples. Just know, they won’t take the same amount of time so you’ll have to check on them frequently.
STEP 3: Start the Food Dehydrator
You’ll want to set your food dehydrator to 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit to dry the cranberries.
STEP 4: Watch and Wait
Keep a very close eye on the fruit in the dehydrator. If you have other fruit, like oranges and apples, I recommend checking those every hour or so.
HOW LONG DO CRANBERRIES TAKE TO DRY IN THE FOOD DEHYDRATOR?
Here is what we’ve experienced. Dehydrating fruit is a little unpredictable. Cranberries take days to dry in the food dehydrator. There is no set time, since there will be varying degrees of humidity and moisture in the berries. I recommend checking them every day and 2 or 3 times a day when they begin to feel like they are almost dry.
We’ve had them take any where from a few days to a week and a half to dry. We keep our dehydrator in the garage so we don’t have to listen to it run for that long.
DOES PRICKING THE CRANBERRY SKIN HELP THEM DEHYDRATE FASTER?
We wondered if we pricked the outside of the cranberry with a needle, if it would make a difference in the dry time. We found that it really didn’t.
If anything, it might have made them shrivel up more rather than keeping them plump.
WHAT DO DRIED CRANBERRIES LOOK LIKE?
I love how beautiful and rustic the dried berries come out. They are a deep burgundy red and only deepen in color with time. Some of the berries do shrivel up a bit – but not quite like a raisin. I do toss them if they shrivel too much.
For the most part, they come out plump and full, just like they went in. I love and appreciate the perfect imperfection of them after they are dried and all have their own character.
CAN YOU DRY CRANBERRIES IN THE OVEN?
Because cranberries need such a long period of time on low heat to dry, it is likely unfeasible to dry them in your kitchen oven. It would have to run for days, and that is not ideal.
CAN YOU DRY CRANBERRIES IN A FREEZE DRYER?
Typically, when drying grapes or cranberries in a freeze dryer, the recommendation is to cut them in half. They will dry faster. This is likely not the look you want if you are intending to use dry cranberries for decorating.
In theory, you could use the freeze dryer for whole cranberries and achieve a similar look. However, it would likely take longer and because of the way the freeze dryer functions, you would be using significantly more power to run it for that long – costing you more. A dehydrator is less intensive and doesn’t suck up as much power. They are not near as expensive as freeze dryers, as well. This is why a food dehydrator is better for drying your cranberries.
HOW TO STORE YOUR DRIED CRANBERRIES
The best way to store your dried cranberries would be in a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber.
We have had success storing our dried cranberries in ziplock bags inside a plastic tote and they have come out just fine. But for the best longevity, I recommend the mylar bags – which we use to store dried fruit for our food storage.
HOW LONG WILL DRIED CRANBERRIES LAST?
If stored properly, you can expect to have your cranberries last for many years. We’ve pulled out our dried cranberry garland for 3 years now and it is still beautiful.
HOW TO DECORATE WITH DRIED CRANBERRIES DURING THE HOLIDAYS
The options are limitless, but here are some of my favorite ways!
- Strung as garland for your tree and mantel
- Tucked into wreaths
- Made into mini wreaths
- Napkin rings
- Present toppers
- Inside of a pretty bowl
- Stovetop Potpourri
I hope you enjoyed this post! For more Christmas decorating ideas, you may enjoy more TIDBITS!
- Natural Christmas Decorations
- Old Fashioned Christmas Tree
- Using Linen ribbon in your Holiday Decorating
I’ve never thought of doing this. It looks great!