Updated: Mar 16
Last year I found out about a local cranberry bog not far from us. I bought cranberries from a local farm store and sat out to figure out how to utilize these in the best way. My only experience with cranberries up to this point was cranberry sauce from a can and juice... which isn't my favorite. I love to have cranberry sauce every now and again, but I never have any on my shelf when I want it. Kenny‘s favorite juice is cranberry juice so I figured even if I juiced them, it would give him a winter supply of cranberry juice. This year we were able to go visit the cranberry bog and actually buy our cranberries directly as they harvested! It was really neat to go and see and exciting to have something like that so close that we have the opportunity to experience and buy.
I love my juicing pot! This was where I started to work with the cranberries. I put them in my steamed juicer and started extracting the juice. What I noticed was that after the juice had been extracted there was still a considerable amount of berry that was left. This is because cranberries don’t have a lot of juice in each berry but are dense in their “meat”. I hated to just throw that part away and so I put on my thinking cap and started researching. Much to my hopeful chicken's dismay, I found A recipe for a whole cranberry sauce that could be canned for winter! I would just tweak it to fit the mash I had and incorporate it into the recipe.
So, after the juice was extracted, I took the mash that was left and made a whole cranberry sauce and canned it for winter months. I loved being able to go down and grab a jar off the shelf just to keep in the refrigerator for those dinners where cranberry sauce was a great addition. This recipe was simple and only required a hot water bath so it’s definitely easy and a beginner level recipe. Basically, I took my mash added just A little bit of water, sugar and cooked it down slightly then jarred and processed! It doesn’t get much easier than that and ultimately you have absolutely no waste from this project.
This year we bought 50 pounds of cranberries! From the 50 pounds I took about 40#’s of them and did the juice which equals 21-pint jars of juice CONCENTRATE! I took about 2/3 of the mash that was left after juicing and made cranberry sauce to can. I had about a third of the mash left and thought I really don’t need any more cranberry sauce, but I hate to throw it away also. I again put my thinking cap and just thought about maybe what my options would be to use it.
The other 10 pounds I made into Craisins for winter use. I did this last year and it worked great topping salads, adding to oatmeal or yogurt or even cookies. Again, I needed to research this to find out how was the best way to go about it. What I found was that if you take the whole washed berry and put them into almost boiling water, very quickly the skins start to pop open and split, like a tomato would do after blanching. They only have to be in the water for maybe about two or three minutes, you will hear them pop as their skins split. Then quickly take them out after they have split and put them on the dehydrating trays to dehydrate. I LOVE my new silicone mats for this! This process took some investigating because if you do not pierce the skin in some way it takes a very long time for them to dehydrate. You need to somehow break the skin to allow the moisture to come out, otherwise it takes forever to complete the dehydrating. Another way you can do it is to cut every cranberry in half, but who has time for that? It’s all about learning how to be fast and efficient to get these projects through quicker, as they already are a big project. After they are fully dehydrated down you can store them in a glass jar and vacuum seal them to be able to use them throughout the winter. These will be shelf stable and easy to access, but make sure they are dehydrated completely. This can be tricky as the cranberries very in size, which also will make each cranberry differ in dehydrating time.
So, as I was dehydrating my cranberries this year it dawned on me! I will dehydrate the rest of the mash and then grind it into a powder like I do my tomatoes! Cranberries are super healthy and very beneficial for many reasons, but particularly for the urinary tract. Having cranberry powder on hand will be great! You can easily make an instant juice or add flavoring to a smoothie or anything that you wanted to make and just add some goodness too. So as soon as my Craisins are done the mash will go in and I will have added a third product All from what normally would have been thrown away!