Monday, November 26, 2012

Crazy for Cranberries

December is only five days away - can you believe it? I've been ready for Christmas since before Halloween, and though Thomas and I purchased and decorated our tree before Thanksgiving {sorry we're not sorry!}, I feel like now I can officially go all out for the holidays. 

I drew a little inspiration from a holiday dish towel I purchased at a Crate & Barrel after-Christmas sale last year, and I decided to decorate our place with cranberries. You always see red and green together in Christmas decor, but I love the way purple, white and cranberry-red look together. A little something different!

After my touches of fresh cranberries throughout the apartment, I had a few cups leftover. I'm a huge Craisin fan - I eat them like candy - and thought, "alright, making dried cranberries can't be THAT hard."

Using a helpful how-to article I found online, I got right to it. It sounded pretty simple, but proved to be a bit of a challenge. But hey! Part of being a blogger is being honest and transparent, even when recipes don't turn out as I'd hope. I'm thinking the Texas humidity hindered the drying process, and I don't own a dehydrator, which would have been more efficient.

Wash cranberries in a strainer and then place in a bowl with enough room for boiling water to be added. You can see my dish towel in this photo - I love it!

Bring several cups of water to a boil and pour over the cranberries. Allow the bowl to sit on the counter for several minutes, until the skins of the berries pop. 

Place cranberries on a cookie sheet and cover with sugar or corn syrup to sweeten, if desired. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 2 hours - apparently, this helps them to dry faster. After 2 hours, preheat oven to 350. Let your oven sit empty at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Place cranberries in oven after 10 minutes, immediately turn the oven off, and then allow the cranberries to sit in the oven overnight. 

Before I get to the finished product, here's how I incorporated cranberries throughout the apartment to add a little holiday cheer. 

{candle holder from PartyLite}
{This candle and hurricane were used in our wedding!}

So, final verdict on the dried cranberry challenge...

I woke up the next morning and was excited to open the oven and find beautiful raisin-like cranberries, but they were still super juicy. After some additional research, some bloggers suggested crushing the berries with a fork and then leaving in the oven to dry. They did dry out a little more, but they just didn't taste like I was hoping. 

I probably won't be eating these by the handful like I do with Craisins. I'll leave that deliciousness to the pros. But, they would work perfectly for a salad, trail mix, or in baking. I might even try and make some orange cranberry scones with these babies!



Does anyone have a dehydrator for making your own dried fruit?
If so, any brands to recommend? And do you use it often enough to make it a worthwhile purchase?

Hope your holiday decorating is off to a beautiful start!

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