Sunday, November 29, 2015

A New and Delightful Cranberry Relish

I had guests with us for much of November, with only a brief hiatus between. While I cooked a lot, I went for the tried and true recipes, rather than invent new ones. Still, in planning for Thanksgiving dinner I was thinking ahead. I wanted to try a type of fermented food I hadn't yet gotten to, namely a Cranberry and Honey Ferment.
Honey Fermented Cran-Blueberry Relish

Cardamom pods and seeds
I had seen things fermented with honey, though adding honey to most ferments will stop any fermentation from occurring. Honey is antibacterial, after all. Still, I know that Mead is made with honey, so obviously it will ferment. My understanding is that some sort of water-based food needs to be added to get the fermenting action started, but once started, it does ferment well. Getting the fermentation started takes a little while, so I started it out in October, giving my cranberry ferment a little over 6 weeks fermentation time. I read that in this type of ferment, one should stir the mixture daily until the fermentation begins. Even still, and with the use of an airlock valve, it started to develop Kahm yeast. I intensely dislike the flavor this yeast gives the foods, so I meticulously wiped off the inside jar and carefully skimmed off the white yeast from the top of the ferment. After a couple more days, fermentation took over and there was no more yeast problem.

I happened to have some fresh blueberries on hand when I started this ferment, so I opted to add some in with the cranberries. I also used fresh ginger, which became a quite prominent flavor, so if you really love ginger (which I do), then the recipe will be just fine. If you do not care for ginger, lessen the amount used in this recipe, or omit it altogether.
Honey Fermented Cran-Blueberry Relish

Other flavors I used were whole cardamom seeds, pecans and orange peel. I always add orange peel and orange juice to my cooked cranberry sauce, and I love that mixture, so I kept it in this recipe also. It took no time at all to combine these ingredients, and outside of the Kahm yeast developing, with the need for a little cleanup, it sat happily bubbling on the counter for 6 weeks. I bottled it and refrigerated it the Friday before Thanksgiving.

I absolutely love, love, love this particular ferment! It was well worth the wait. I would have given it more time to ferment (it was till bubbling actively) if I'd had more time, but it got started late, so I live with these results, which are spectacular. The outcome is plenty sweet, despite the fact that no cooking took place. The main difference is that the fermented cranberries are not thickened. Cranberries have natural pectin, so cooking them and with the berries bursting in the pan, the pectin goes to work and this thickens a cooked cranberry sauce. Not so here. This fermented sauce is a bit runnier, but just as sweet.

Honey Fermented Cran-Blueberry Sauce 

Makes about 4 cups
Honey Fermented Cran-Blueberry Relish

4 cups fresh cranberries (about 14 ounces)
4 ounces fresh blueberries 
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, in thin matchsticks
1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
1 tablespoon dried orange peel
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (2.25 ounces)
1 1/4 cups raw, organic honey

freshly mixed and set to ferment
In a food processor, pulse the cranberries and blueberries to roughly chop. Pour into a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture into one large (1.5 - 2 liter) wire bail jar (Fido) with an airlock in place. Open the jar once a day and stir down the mixture, for about a week. Once it begins to bubble on its own, leave off stirring and allow the fermentation to run its course. This will take a minimum of 6 weeks and up to 3 months. Once fermented, pour into smaller jars and refrigerate.

While on the topic of cranberry relish, this is the recipe I use every year for Thanksgiving, and I also made it this year, for those who preferred a more traditional taste and feel. Last year I altered it slightly, using Port wine and dried cherries and it was also spectacular, but this one has been my preferred recipe for many many years now.

Cranberry Orange Relish

Cranberry Orange Relish

Makes about 4 cups

10 - 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest, freshly grated
1/2 cup slivered almonds, optional

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered for about 10 to 20 minutes or until the berries have popped and thickened. The mixture will thicken more as it cools. If desired, mash the berries while they cook, to release the insides, which thickens even more. If desired, add in the almonds. Remove from heat and cool before storing in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.