Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cranberries & Mushrooms

No, not together. I recently got a good deal on some mushrooms (cheap) and two, 12-oz bags of cranberries (free!), so I thought I'd dehydrate them both.

I have dehydrated mushrooms before and we use them in all sorts of stuff - soups, sauces, spaghetti, omelets, etc. I have never dehydrated cranberries before, so I thought it would be fun to give it a try.

I started with the cranberries, giving them a good rinsing while I put some water on to boil. Cranberries have a slightly tough, waxy outer skin, and if you just threw them into the dehydrator like that, they'd turn into rock-hard little balls. You have to crack their skins, similar to what you do with tomatoes when getting them ready to can, only you don't have to remove the skin from the cranberries - just crack it.

Cranberry, too mushy for dehydrating.

I put about half the cranberries into the boiling water at a time. It only takes a minute (maybe less) for the skins to start cracking. They actually make a popping sound, kind of like popcorn popping. As soon as the skins crack, take them out of the water. If you leave them in too long, they quickly turn to mush and aren't good for dehydrating.

After I finished cracking the skins, I let the leftover water cool for a few minutes, then added it to some sugar to make a simple syrup. I used about 2/3 cup of sugar to 3/4 cup of water and stirred it til the sugar dissolved, then added the cranberries. I covered them and let them marinate overnight. You can skip this step if you don't want to sweeten your cranberries, but I wanted to minimize their tartness.

An adult beverage seems to help the slicing go faster.
Meanwhile, I had this big pile of mushrooms to deal with. They all had to be washed and sliced. Once upon a time I walked into a store and found already-sliced mushrooms on sale. Once. Since then I've only found whole mushrooms at the bargain price, but that's okay...I don't mind the slicing. Much.

One-third down, two-thirds to go (the mushrooms, not the drink).

I'd slice a bunch, then stop and put them on dehydrator trays, then slice some more, then get the picture. I put them on the trays kind of thickly because I was worried they wouldn't all fit. Turns out I had room to spare, so I went back and thinned them out some, which will help them dry faster. Once I had the trays filled, I turned the dehydrator on at about 135 degrees.

While I was slicing mushrooms, the hubster was making dinner. By the time I got done with the cranberries and the mushrooms, I was ready to get off my feet and enjoy my tostadas. The mushrooms will dehydrate and the cranberries will marinate overnight.
The hubster says I make my tostadas too puny. What do you think?


  1. I plan on getting some cranberries after Thanksgiving. They alsways have the bags on sale at most of the grocery stores around here.

    Those tostadas look delicious and your's looks about the right size.

    1. DFW, I saw some in a store ad this week and am considering buying some. The tostadas were just right for me and quite tasty :)

  2. Your husband is my kind of cook. Tell him nice job.

  3. I was just wondering if you were still using the Game Winner dehydrator and your thoughts about it since it has been about a year since your initial post about it. I saw it tonight at Academy and it was on sale, and I, like you, was wanting an Excalibur but didn't want to pay the price. Also, I didn't want the round ones. Just wanting a little more feedback than I can find online. Thanks in advance!

    1. Tangela, my dehydrator is currently humming away, and the house smells like mushrooms again :) I'm still really happy with it. In fact, I've been considering buying another one for a backup-not that I'm having any problems with the one I have-but now that you say they're on sale, I might look into it and see if they're on sale here, too.

      Incidentally, my MIL bought an Excalibur (from Angela, here: -and btw, she's having an Excalibur giveaway right now) and I got to check it out. It's nice and seems to be made of sturdier materials than the Game Winner. I like that the holes in the trays are smaller than the tray holes in the Game Winner trays, and I also like that it has a piece that can slide down over the front of the unit. That's handy to keep the heat in if you're dehydrating something that's so large that it requires you to remove the tray above the tray it's sitting on.

      That being said, if I'm dehydrating something small like herbs or making fruit roll-ups, I just line the trays with cling wrap. And if I need to take out a tray to make room for something large, I tape a piece of foil across the front of the Game Winner and it works out fine. I'm still glad I got the Game Winner and didn't spend the money on an Excalibur.

      Hope that helps. Thanks for your comment!