With the holidays right around the corner, most of us will be spending some time with people we love dearly. We often have get togethers, such as parties, dinners, or just coffee or tea on a rainy day. These moments are special and make life worth living.
Why not start the holiday season off by preparing a festive fermentation to share with the friends and loved ones who enrich our lives? Fermenting only takes 5 days to three weeks, depending on the level of Fermentation you desire. In this blog I will talk about the things you will need, the fermentation process, the possible health benefits, and then leave you with a couple of recipes to try out.
Like a lot of good things in human history, consuming fermented foods and beverages probably started by accident – some adventurous ancestor tried some food that fermented under accidentally perfect conditions and realized they had stumbled onto a good thing. These days, there are quite a lot of people who swear by the positive effects of ferments to help fight illnesses, increase immune system function, and even fight certain cancers. We can’t verify that any of these statements are true or false because we are not scientists, just people who love to make new things that taste great! I only know that when I regularly consume fermented foods, I feel better than when I don’t.
Fermenting can be done in many ways, but today I will talk about the method of using an airlock to prevent air and pathogens from entering your Fermentation. I will post pictures as we go.
Equipment you will need for the following recipe:
- Fermentation Jar (we have many sizes to choose from)
- Gallon Pickle jar, grommeted Fermentation lid
- Fermentation weight
- A colander or cheesecloth or butter muslin
- A mixing bowl
- A long handled spoon
- A muslin hop-straining bag
- 1 chopstick (clean)
One of my favorite holiday recipes is:
Fermented Cranberry Apple Salsa
You will need the following ingredients:
- 1 bag of fresh cranberries (very lightly mashed)
- ½ cup red onion diced
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon orange peel (sweet)
- 1 star anise pod
- 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 teaspoons whole cloves
- 2 teaspoons whole nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon whole cardamom pods
- 1 Tbsp. sea salt (or any non iodized salt)
- 2 cups of cooled, boiled water or bottled water (water that’s free of chlorine and other harmful pathogens-don’t assume your water at home is clean enough for a healthy ferment!)
Okay, let’s get started:
First, place the following ingredients in the muslin hop-straining bag, tie off the bag, and set aside when you are done:
Cinnamon sticks, orange peel, cloves, cardamom, anise, pepper flakes(optional).
Rinse cranberries and chopped apples in colander, or in the cheesecloth or butter muslin.
Pour cranberries and apples in mixing bowl, and add onions, ginger, and powdered cinnamon directly into fruit mixture, stirring well and mashing lightly.
When thoroughly blended, place the mixture into your desired fermentation container. Add the muslin bag full of spices to the top of mixture.
In a separate bowl, dissolve the 1 Tbsp. of salt in the 2 cups of boiled or bottled water. For every additional 2 cups of water use 2 teaspoons of salt. This is your brine.
Add brine to fruit mixture in container. Push muslin spice bag into middle of mixture and stir up with chopstick. After ALL of the mixture is covered by the brine by at least ½ to 1 inch, place Fermentation weight on top of mixture inside of container. Make sure brine covers entire mixture, including muslin bag. Place Fermentation lid on jar.
Place airlock inside of stopper or grommet. Fill airlock to line with bottled or boiled water. This is to prevent air contamination from spoiling your ferment.
Leave for at least 5 to 7 days in a warm (70-74 degrees) dark place. Add more brine if needed. Don’t let the brine level evaporate below the mixture. After 7 days open and test mixture with a toothpick by removing a piece and tasting it. It can ferment up to 3 weeks depending on your taste preferences.
When it has lost its tartness and becomes fizzy and zesty to your liking, it is time to place in the fridge and put the regular jar lid on, or replace the airlock and drilled stopper with a solid stopper. This mixture will keep for a while in the fridge under the proper conditions.
Enjoy this festive salsa with soft cheeses like goat or mascarpone and a little maple syrup reduction or honey drizzled over it. This is a delicious alternative to traditional cranberry sauce!
It is important to make sure that there is no mold or other pathogens growing in the ferment, and it doesn’t have an unusually foul odor before consuming. Fermented veggies are a great source of probiotics when prepared correctly. They are not so good if not.
You can ferment anything from cabbage to peppers to green beans to beets and beyond . You name it and you can probably ferment it.
If you are wanting to get into Fermentation and want to do it successfully right off the bat, I would like to recommend the following books which you can find at most of our Fifth Season locations:
Mastering Fermentation by Mary Karlin
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz
The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz
I hope you have fun fermenting during this festive time of year!