Cranberries!

Note: the November 22 entry refers to recipes and events in the October 8 entry below it.

November 22

Its been a while since I last blogged. I blame getting an unusual number of students in the online courses I teach. I was expecting a handful. I got 42.

But a response (below) asking what happened makes me put the course aside for a moment and do an update.

So essentially I made our usual (Canadian) thanksgiving cranberry relish the way I always have done it (not fermented) and I made a fermented version. I also tried the cranberry chutney noted below – a honey ferment. So here is what happened to these various experiments:

  • whole cranberries in a brine: These have lasted fine and continue to ferment although the fermentation is not nearly as vigorous as what I am used to. I don’t get much of a strong LAB taste – which is fine – I don’t want it in a cranberry condiment.
  • whole cranberries in honey with a little water. Same as above. 
  • chopped cranberries in honey. This one was interesting. Again as above there is not a strong LAB taste – yet at the same time there is no evidence of mould. 
  • The remains   – about 200g  – of our non fermented cranberry chutney became mouldy in the fridge after about 2 weeks.
  • The same fermented chutney was kept outside the fridge, and did not mould.
  • The raspberry ginger ferment likewise was fine – inside or outside the fridge.

What to make of it?

Cranberries on their own are naturally acidic  – apparently around 2.5 pH on their own. (FDA) Oranges and apples too are acidic  – between 3-4 pH. So even without fermentation, our cranberry orange relish is going to last a long time (or should) as its a pretty acidic mix. Looking back, its surprising that there was surface mould after a couple of weeks. The ferments however were also pressed down, with little to no air contact.

I’m questioning whether they actually fermented in this time, or if the natural acidity combined with lack of exposure to air on the surface was the most significant factor.

I also have to keep my goals in mind. In this case its not to make a ferment per se. I’ve already got enough of that in my life. Its simply to make a great condiment that can exist happily outside the fridge for a few months. It would appear that the type of container would be important. The air contact needs to be controlled.  A standard mason jar filled to the neck with cranberry material either whole, chopped or a chutney, covered with honey should work well. With time, it should ferment too.

 Next Steps

I’m going to try putting up 2L each of our usual relish and the raspberry ginger relish, in 1L standard mouth mason jars that will be left in the basement. Due to the difficulty of keeping the liquid (honey slightly diluted)  on the top, I’m not going to puree them in the ferment phase. I’ll use whole fruits, or chopped oranges and apples. When I need some for a condiment, I’ll take what I need and puree it before serving. Currently fresh cranberries are not available to me – so I’ll need to decide whether to wait a few weeks or to do it sooner with frozen cranberries.

 

October 8 2015

For years, I’ve made Molly  Katzen’s Cranberry Orange relish to accompany our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner. It was published in her truly excellent Still Life with Menu cookbook as part of a vegetarian thanksgiving dinner.

Then this year I found out about fermenting. Everything has strangely changed.

Oh – I’m still making the same Cranberry Orange Relish  – I would have some serious familial discord if I didn’t. But I did buy a 3 kilo bag of berries from my coop and this afternoon I did some experimentation.

I should also say that this is going to be a different kind of a blog. Most food blogs are what I would call ‘TA DA!!!’ blogs: great food porn picture at the top of the finished product, a cool story that gives context and personal interest, and the recipe. Everything done and cleaned up – fait complit.

This is definitely not a TA DA blog. Its definitely an ‘in process’ blog where its all about what I am trying to do, as I really have no idea of where it will all end up. I will do a followup blog: I’ll tack on the newest bit on top in a few weeks once I see how my experimentation went and reblog it. Either way, you will get recipes, promise.

So In this I am asking the following questions:

  1. Can our usual Cranberry Orange Relish be fermented?
  2. Trying out someone else’s fermented cranberry condiment recipe (yum!)
  3. Is it better to ferment cranberries in honey or in a brine?
  4. What difference will chopping the cranberries make (honey ferment)?
The mise en scene for this little experiment.

The mise en scene for this little experiment.

The Cranberry Orange Relish essentially is this:

  • Chop in a food processor:
  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • ½ an orange including the peel
  • ½ cup brown sugar.

That’s it. Super simple, super delicious. Now go and buy Mollie’s book ’cause there’s a ton of really excellent stuff in there!

As you can see, getting the fruit mash below the water will be a challenge.

As you can see, getting the fruit mash below the water will be a challenge.

For the fermented version I substituted honey instead of the sugar. A little tasting shows what I knew and what  I should have done: a little less honey. We’ll see what difference the fermentation makes.  I’m planning on fermenting it for a week. It was a little challenging getting that water on the very top – so I’ll have to keep on top of the molds. 

I started my investigation into fermenting cranberries by posting a query on the Wild Fermentation FB page about other people’s experience with cranberries and got some interesting and quite useful feedback – and a recipe from Sara Kueber McKoy.

Here is her recipe:

Sara Kueber McKoy’s cranberry raspberry ginger chutney

  • 1 litre chopped cranberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 3/4″ diameter piece of fresh ginger  2″ in length into thin planks & then cut into 1/2″ long strips,
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • Let it sit overnight in airlocked jar and in morning top up with water and then adjust salt to taste. Ferment for 5-7 days at 71-73F and in then refrigerate.

The effect of the raspberry and ginger on the cranberries is quite magical. Its definitely something to experiment more with  – I’m thinking of taking some of it for a salad dressing.

This one is looking great and tasting great even before it ferments.

This one is looking great and tasting great even before it ferments.

Generally the feedback from the FB page  was to use honey instead of  brine as the fermenting agent. That made sense – cranberries are definitely tart.

After that I prepared the following brines – setting up single bottles to check out my questions. I now have:

  • whole cranberries in a brine
  • whole cranberries in honey with a little water
  • chopped cranberries in honey.
  • I might have done chopped cranberries in a brine but ran out of cranberries.

So that’s what happened today in my kitchen. Not quite. I also wrestled with some sourdough starter too – but that is another story.

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6 thoughts on “Cranberries!

      • To me a salsa is a chutney, but salsa is often based upon tomato-onions-peppers-spices-herbs. Chutneys are often comprised of chopped ingredients, spoon thick, more solids than liquid. When fermenting a chutney you typically stir then sample daily. The routine stirring helps inhibit any surface growth.

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