a reader inquires what about craisins

It’s true that alone and unadorned, cranberries are almost a perfect diet food, as they are high in nutritional value and fiber while being low in carbohydrates and calories.

Due to their incredibly tart natural taste, most commercial cranberry products available are loaded with added sugar. Get this: when it comes to most store-bought “craisins,” one-third of a cup of dried cranberries can contain 2 tablespoons of sugar! The addition of the sugar changes dried cranberries from a very low-carb fruit to a high-carb choice. But that’s not to say that all dried cranberry products contain added sugars.

Today, it’s getting easier to find reduced-sugar or sugar-free dried cranberries, but you must check labels carefully.

It was this very problem (added sugar, that is) that inspired finding out a way to dry cranberries with artificial sweetener.

It turns out that due to the soluble fiber in them, which attracts water, it is a bit trickier than drying cranberries with traditional refined sugar. But, here’s a way that works, and it isn’t too difficult:

1 (12-ounce) bag fresh whole cranberries
1 cup sugar substitute of your choice (can vary to taste)
1/2 cup water
Heat oven to 200 F.
Put cranberries in a large skillet, and pick through to remove soft and/or brown ones.
If sweetener is powdered, dissolve in water. (comparison of sources of “liquid Splenda”). Pour over cranberries and stir.
Heat on medium high until cranberries pop, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir every minute or two. When all seem popped, turn off the burner and let them cool for 10 minutes.
Squish them down with the back of a large spoon. Don’t worry if it seems they are melding together. Let cool another 5 minutes or so.
Cover baking sheet with three layers of paper towels and a piece of parchment paper. (I’m sure this would work great in a food dehydrator, but I don’t have one.)
Spread cranberries on the parchment. Have faith – they will mostly “individuate” again as they dry. If unpopped ones remain, squish them down now.
Put in oven and turn heat down to 150 F.
In 2 to 4 hours, replace parchment and flip paper towels over. (You don’t have to do this, but it speeds up the process.)
Start checking after 6 hours. Total time depends on humidity and other factors. It usually takes me about 8 hours. It also depends on whether you want to dry them to the point where they still have some “give” or whether you like them “crispier”.
Separate them, and store covered (zip-type bags work well).
Carb Count: The whole recipe has 25 grams of effective carbohydrate and 16 grams of fiber.