Cranberries are small, shiny pink berries which have an acidic flavor. Growing from evergreen shrubs, cranberries are a seasonal fruit, so it might be difficult to find them year-round. However, dried cranberries have a longer shelf life, and can be found more readily throughout the year.
While dried cranberries have a longer shelf life than fresh cranberries, they can spoil over time. If you have an opened pack of cranberries at home, and you do not want them to spoil before you get to use them, what can you do?
Can you freeze dried cranberries? Yes, you can freeze dried cranberries. Freezing dried cranberries is really simple, there are no complicated tips or tricks, you just need to flash freeze them beforehand and place them into a freezer container for safekeeping. Freezing dried cranberries is the best way to ensure they have a longer shelf life.
Keep reading to learn the best way to freeze dried cranberries.
The Best Way to Freeze Dried Cranberries
It is fairly easy to grab a handful of cranberries from the freezer to add into a smoothie, into oats, or to bake into a dessert. It is important, when freezing cranberries, to ensure they do not freeze solid and stick together.
It would be difficult to use a few at a time, without having to defrost the whole lot. There is a way around this, to stop the cranberries from freezing together in a big clump, you will need to flash freeze them first.
Here is how to flash freeze-dried cranberries, and how to safely store them in the freezer:
- Pour the dried cranberries onto a baking sheet, and ensure they are spread out evenly, not layered on top of each other. If you have a large number of cranberries, you might have to repeat this process a few times.
- Place the baking sheet, with the cranberries, into the freezer.
- Allow the dried cranberries to freeze, it should take around 45 minutes or so.
- Once the dried cranberries have frozen solid, you can place them into a freezer-safe storage container to be put into the freezer.
- Label the top of the container with the date of freezing, and with the contents of the container, so they are easy to identify, and so you know when to use them by.
Choosing A Storage Container
Choosing the right storage container is so important to ensure that the dried cranberries are kept safe in the freezer, and are not exposed to elements such as air or moisture which could ruin their texture and taste.
When frozen, ice crystals form within the dried cranberries, and over time these break down the cell walls, which could cause the dried cranberries to lose their firm texture and become soggy and mushy.
A plastic freezer container is a good choice to freeze dried cranberries. Depending on the size, you could store a whole bag of dried cranberries in one container.
If you are using a plastic freezer container, make sure that it seals tightly shut, and that it is moisture and air-resistant, so no elements can affect the quality of the dried cranberries.
Plastic containers are also easy to label, so you can identify the cranberries in the freezer quickly.
Plastic freezer bag
For freezing contents such as dried cranberries, plastic sealable freezer bags are also a great option. You can fit a fair amount of dried cranberries into standard freezer bags, but you are also able to use smaller freezer bags for single-serving portions of dried cranberries.
It is really easy to use a marker to date and name each plastic freezer bag. These freezer bags are also handy for those who have little freezer space, as they can be stored flat, and stacked one on top of the other.
Glass jars always look pretty when storing items such as dried cranberries, but they can be practical as well. When using a glass jar to store dried cranberries, ensure that it is safe to be placed in the freezer.
The great thing about using glass containers is that you can use them to store the cranberries in the freezer, and then either in the fridge or pantry when it is time to use them. The lids seal shut tightly and prevent any air or moisture from coming into contact with the contents.
How Long Will Dried Cranberries Last In The Freezer?
If stored correctly, and kept in an airtight container, dried cranberries can last for up to a year in the freezer. It will still be safe to eat the dried cranberries after this time, but the quality will deteriorate quite a bit and they won’t have as strong a taste or color as what they should.
Dried cranberries kept in the pantry only last for up to 4 weeks. These need to be stored in a clean mason jar, with the lid shut tight.
They can also be placed in a sealable plastic bag, and both should be labeled with the date of storing. Placed in a dry place, and out of sunlight, you will only have a few weeks to use the cranberries within.
When kept in the fridge, dried cranberries can last almost as long as what they would in the freezer. The fridge provides a chilled environment with low humidity.
You can choose to use a plastic container, a mason jar or a sealable plastic bag to keep the dried cranberries stored in the fridge. If kept in the proper way, dried cranberries can last up to 8 months in the fridge.
How To Tell If Dried Cranberries Have Spoiled
Most of us assume that dried fruit very rarely spoils, but this is not the case. While the process of dehydrating and drying fruit does increase their shelf life drastically, it does not mean they are safe to eat indefinitely.
You should always check your dried cranberries for signs of spoiling, to ensure they are still safe to eat.
The best way to determine if the cranberries have spoiled would be to smell and look at them. If they have an off smell or a shriveled, strange appearance, they should be thrown away. Dried cranberries are also not immune to mold, and if there are any signs of mold, you should discard the dried cranberries.
Benefits Of Dried Cranberries
Dried cranberries are popular around the festive season, used in meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, due to their nutritional benefits, cranberries should become a part of your regular diet.
Dried cranberries, simply put, are cranberries with all the water removed. Dried cranberries are known for being a great source of fiber, with a quarter-cup size serving of cranberries containing 8 percent of the daily recommended serving of fiber, and 6 percent of the daily recommended serving of vitamin E.
The dried cranberries also contain many different vitamins, such as vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, and even vitamin K. They also contain small amounts of different minerals such as manganese, iron, and copper.
The downside to dried cranberries is that they contain quite a bit of sugar, so you need to ensure that you are not consuming too many, just enough to get your daily requirement of vitamins and nutrients that they offer.
How do you keep dried cranberries moist?
To bring some moisture back into your dried cranberries, you can place the dried fruit into a small bowl and cover them with boiling water.
Let it sit for 15 minutes, then drain the fruit and discard of the water. This will cause the dried cranberries to be plumper, softer and juicier. Instead of using water, you can steep the dried cranberries in rum, bourbon, brandy or fruit juice, to give them an extra kick of flavor.
This is a great method to use if you are infusing the cranberries into a fruit pudding or to make a sauce. You can also incorporate dried cranberries and other fruits into pastry fillings, such as with Kolaches.
Can you eat expired dried cranberries?
Dried fruit, like other foods, are labeled with a best by date. This is to indicate when you should consume the dried cranberries by to enjoy their best flavor and quality, but does not indicate the expiry date, or when the dried cranberries will spoil.
If you notice that your dried cranberries have passed their best by date, you should examine them to see if they have an off smell or appearance, and if they do, you should discard them.
If you bite into a dried cranberry and the taste is not normal, you should throw them away to be safe.
Freezing Dried Cranberries
It is always a good idea to keep some dried cranberries in your kitchen, for when a dessert craving hits, or for when you need to whip up a quick cranberry sauce and the fruit is no longer in season.
It is best to keep the dried cranberries frozen in the freezer, flash-frozen before so you can take as much as you need from the freezer container, without having to defrost the whole batch.
If stored properly, the dried cranberries can last in the freezer for up to a year.