Not All Dried Cranberries are Created Equal

Shopping for Dried Cranberries

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- cranberries are an often-overlooked fruit. The popular children’s character, Strawberry Shortcake, proves it. Strawberry Shortcake travels all about Strawberryland with her friends in tow. Apple Dumplin’, Lemon Meringue, Ginger Snap, and Raspberry Torte make the rounds with her, but not one of her friends is named Cranberry. If it were up to me, I’m name the next character added to the line up Cranberry Pancake.

Daydream Believer

I bet you’re wondering if I lost my mind. Well, I haven’t (not yet anyway). When you’re surrounded by berries all day, your mind does start to wonder. Lucky for you, I’ve daydreamed up some great ways for you to incorporate dried cranberries into your diet.

Read First, Shop Second

For those of you who don’t grow your own cranberries, I wanted to give you some ideas for those store-bought gems: dried cranberries. The cranberry is very versatile, so feel free to try any or all of the suggestions below, and make sure you report back to me on the results. But before you shop for those cranberries, read the shopping tips first.

The Sweet Scoop on Dried Cranberries

There are essentially two varieties of dried cranberries available in grocery stores: sweetened or unsweetened and sulphured or unsulphured. Sweetened/unsweetened is pretty straightforward. Sweetened cranberries contain added sugar to reduce the tart flavor.

The No-so-Sweet Scoop on Dried Cranberries

The other category requires a bit more explanation. Sulphur dioxide is used by some manufacturers when drying fruit. Sulphur dioxide is added to lock in the color of the fruit. The problem is sulphur dioxide can trigger an asthma attack.

You never know who you’ll be serving this holiday season, so it’s best to stick with unsulphured dried cranberries and dried fruits whenever available, even if it requires an extra trip to the natural foods store.

So remember, when buying dried cranberries don't assume they're all the same. Read the packaging. Unsweetened and unsulphured is best.

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