January is #nationaldriedfruit month and we thought now was a great time to celebrate the dried version of America’s Original Superfruit®.
Sweetened dried cranberries (SDCs) are produced by infusing a sweetener into sliced or whole fresh cranberries until a specific equilibrate Brix range is reached (this amount varies by producer). The product is then dried to moisture specification and lightly sprayed with oil to prevent clumping. The result is a product that is firm yet tender in texture, as well as sweet and tart in flavor. Brands sometimes sweeten with other fruit juices to create flavored SDCs such as cherry, strawberry, blueberry and orange.
Some brands do produce unsweetened dried cranberries. However, dried cranberries are usually sweetened because, unlike other berries, cranberries are naturally low in sugar and high in acidity (like lemons), making them especially tart. Adding a sweetener makes them more palatable so that their unique health benefits can be enjoyed. In fact, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans allow for a limited amount of added sugar to improve the palatability of some nutrient-dense foods (e.g. cranberries) as long as calories from added sugars do not exceed 10 percent per day. The amount of sugar in SDCs is similar to that of other dried fruits such as raisins and dried cherries.
Dried cranberries are fat free, cholesterol free and sodium free. A serving of dried cranberries contains 7.57% of the daily value. A half cup of dried cranberries is equivalent to a one cup serving of fresh fruit.
SDCs add color, texture and a bold sweet and tart flavor to a variety of recipes. Here are just a few ways to incorporate this versatile ingredient into your snacks, desserts and meals.
Quick and easy ways to enjoy dried cranberries
- Grab a handful right out of the package (doesn’t get much easier than this!)
- Add to your favorite trail mix or homemade granola
- Combine with oatmeal or yogurt for a flavorful punch
- Spread peanut butter onto celery sticks and top with dried cranberries (ladybugs on a log!)
- Mix with chicken salad for a delicious twist on an old standby
- Combine with your favorite rice dish for a pop of color and flavor
- Top your favorite salad with this tart treat
- Pair with brie and other soft cheese for an appetizing hors d’oeuvre