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.
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 edible 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 very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are a good source of dietary fiber, providing at least 10 percent 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 delish 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
For more recipe ideas, visit our website recipe section and search for “dried”. We also have a dedicated foodservice website that contains scaled-up recipes featuring dried cranberries, which are on the USDA Foods Available List.