It's really easy to make sugar free dried cranberries - or sugar free craisins, if you prefer to call them that - at home! I sprinkle these keto friendly dried cranberries over salads and use them in muffins. They're also delicious as a fruity, juicy snack all on their own!
I have an easy keto recipe for low carb cranberry sauce that I look forward to making (and eating) every year. Now that it's December, cranberries are on my mind again. So when I spotted a pack in my local supermarket, I thought - why not try something different and make homemade sugar free dried cranberries?
Are dried cranberries keto friendly?
They can be, if you make them at home. Here is problem with store bought dried cranberries. They are full of added sugar! Regular dried cranberries are sweetened with either cane sugar or fruit juice concentrates. Really, they are no better than raisins or dates.
However, by using a low carb sweetener instead of sugar, you can enjoy these no sugar added dried cranberries even as part of a keto diet. 1 tablespoon of cranberries are only 1.4g g net carbs.
And on top of enjoying a fruity gluten free keto snack, cranberries are also packed with vitamins and minerals. They are high in vitamin C and antioxidants such as quercetin.
How to dry cranberries
There are two ways to dry cranberries - in the oven and in a food dehydrator. The latter has been on my secret wish list for years, but I'll be honest with you: I just don't have the space for another gadget.
Also, by using the oven method I know that all of you can try this recipe. It is super easy and works with bot frozen and fresh cranberries.
Sugar free dried cranberries - step by step:
3 ingredients is all you need - cranberries, powdered sweetener and coconut oil.
Blanch the cranberries
If using frozen cranberries - Pour boiling water over them and leave them to thaw for 2 - 3 minutes. Drain and then put the cranberries in between kitchen paper and squeeze out lots of the water / juice. It doesn’t need to be bone dry, just the excess taken out.
If using fresh cranberries - put in a saucepan with boiling water and simmer for 2 - 4 minutes or until the cranberries start to soften and the skin splits open. Drain and then press between kitchen paper to remove any excess moisture.
If not all of your berries pop in the hot water, pierce the skins with a fork or a toothpick. If you pierce them or the skin has popped, they will dry quicker and the sweetener can enter the berries.
Toss in low carb sweetener
Regular dried cranberries are made with a sugar syrup or concentrated juice. Instead of making a syrup, I simply coated the cranberries with a mix of coconut oil and powdered sweetener.
I have made the recipe with both powdered erythritol and powdered allulose. Both work, however I'd say that allulose is the better option if you can get hold of it. It melts like sugar and gives a smoother result.
Dry in the oven
Now your work is done and you can let the cranberries slowly dehydrate in the oven on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
I set my oven to 100 Celsius / 210 Fahrenheit electric, which turned out to be the perfect temperature to speed up the drying process as much as possible without risking the cranberries to brown.
How long to dry cranberries?
Here is what I found: 4 ½ hours seems to be the perfect time. But. After this time you NEED to turn off the oven and leave the berries inside overnight.
During this time they will dry out more and have that raisin-like texture - juicy inside, but dry on the outside.
If your cranberries are VERY small (like red currants), about 4 hours may be sufficient.
If you DON'T want to leave the cranberries in the (turned-off) oven overnight, consider keeping them in the oven for 5 hours in total and then leave them sitting on the counter overnight.
Do not skip the step of blanching the fresh cranberries. In my first try, I put them straight into the oven without blanching them first. This increased the oven time to 7 hours. I know you don't have time for that!
Instead of coconut oil, you can also use avocado oil or even a light olive oil. Avoid vegetable or canola oil if possible, they are not good for you.
If you want, you can make the sweetener stick even better by adding ¼ tsp xanthan gum or 1 tsp arrowroot powder. It's not essential to the recipe, but more similar to original (sugary) version which use sugar syrups.
Unsweetened dried cranberries
You can leave out the sweetener altogether and just dehydrate your cranberries after blanching. They will be VERY tart. However, if you add them to muffins or other sweet dishes, you won't notice the difference. I used unsweetened cranberries in these orange cranberry scones and they worked really well.
Where to use sugar free dried cranberries
I love these as a simple juicy snack all on their own.
But you can also add them into any muffin recipe to give them a festive, wintery flair. Try these Low Carb Keto Blueberry Muffins or these dairy free Keto Coconut Flour Muffins with Blueberries and just replace the blueberries with cranberries.
We also enjoyed them sprinkled over winter salads such as kale or chicory salad and add it to our dried cranberry trail mix.
And last but not least, you could also add them to my Low Carb Christmas Pudding.... and stay tuned for a sugar free mince pie recipe featuring cranberries instead of raisins that I am working on right now!
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Sugar Free Dried Cranberries
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- Preheat the oven to 100C / 210 F electric (or 80C fan).
- If using frozen cranberries, place in a bowl of boiled water to defrost. If using fresh cranberries, place in a pan with a little boiling water and simmer for 2 - 4 minutes on a low heat or until they soften slightly and the skin pops open. Drain and place on kitchen paper and press to remove the moisture.
- Pierce any berries that haven't popped with a fork. Put them in a bowl and toss them in the coconut oil and powdered sweetener.
- Pour cranberries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dehydrate in the oven for 4 ½ hours. Then, turn off the oven and leave the cranberries inside overnight.