By Henriette Kress - I wrote this for news:rec.food.preserving in June97.
Somebody asked about a recipe for dried cranberries, without coloring and with very little sweetener. I haven't dried them as such (their skin is way too tough), but I have made fruitleather of our local cranberries (Vaccinium oxycoccos). These are rather sour and have a lot of taste - I'm told the American species (V. macrocarpum) is larger and considerably blander in taste.
Making fruit leather
Crush fresh ripe cranberries, let the juice drip into a bowl (refrigerate that and drink it diluted with water, or make a jelly, or whatever), pour ½ - 1 dl of berrymush onto 20x20 cm of baking paper (not wrapping paper - you know the difference: it won't stick to the first and will bond irrevocably with the second), put on your dehydrator trays (mine have a diameter of 25 cm). Put on 40 deg.C for 12 hours, try to remove berries from paper if possible, dry some more if not.
Once the berries are off the paper: put some sugar on the patch and flip it over; now continue to dry it until it cracks when cool (how do you know? Let it cool every 6 hours or so, and try to bend it).
Warm it up again, roll while warm, let cool that way - they stay rolled. Cut into candy-sized chunks if you want, or leave them in rolls.
Other berries you can try
I've also done this with
- lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea): about as good as cranberries, even if not quite so tart
- black currant (Ribes nigrum): yum!
- red currant (Ribes rubrum): not a good idea - way too sour and too many large seeds which just get stuck in your teeth,
- bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus): not too good an idea - a bit too bland, actually, especially when comparing to lingonberries and black currant.