As a young child, beginning at the age of 3, I suffered from constantly recurring kidney/bladder infections. 13 years later I was finally diagnosed with the vague term “abnormal kidney”. By the time I was 12 years old, I had taken so many sulfa based drugs to rid myself of infection that my body developed a pretty bad allergy to sulfa.

Enter cranberries. In juice form. Or in pill form. It worked!! My infections still came, but the cranberries were the only thing we ever found to alleviate the discomfort, and sometimes when I catch it early enough, it keeps me from developing a full blown infection altogether.

This little berry means a lot to me!

And now…the time is getting very close to cranberries being in season, and at their lowest price. These are the times of year I prefer to buy things in bulk and preserve them for the next year.

I prefer to preserve cranberries by drying them. (Some people prefer freezing and that is fine. My freezer space is at a premium so anything that doesn’t have to go in, doesn’t.) There are all sorts of methods to dry, or dehydrate, food. You can find them all over the internet. My method is to use a dehydrator, so that is what I’ll cover here.

First, rinse your cranberries. I do this by simply putting them in a colander and running water over them in the sink.

rinse the cranberries

Next, blanch the cranberries. Blanching is a term that simply means you heat the fruit or vegetable for a certain amount of time, and then cool it quickly. For cranberries, bring a large enough pot of water to boil. Dump the cranberries in, and turn off the heat. Some things you have to guess at, cranberries tell you when they are done by cracking, or splitting. It is distinct, you can even hear it happen. Now dump them back in your colander in the sink and run cold water all over them (I do it until they are no longer steaming). Drain well.

Aren’t they so pretty?

Once they are drained, spread them in your dehydrator nicely, none touching each other and in a single layer. You will want your temperature to be as close to 120° as possible. Keep an eye on anything you dehydrate. Mine take on average about 14 hours to dry, but I have had them take much longer, and much less. It depends on your dehydrator, as well as the weather, and the moisture content of the fruit or vegetable you are drying. Get them completely dry, but not crispy. They should be pliable, but any moisture left in them can cause them to spoil.

When you are finished, store these in a jar in the freezer (always label your freezer contents!!) and take out a handful to throw into homemade trail mix, granola, oatmeal, pancakes, muffins, or anything else you dream up!