Winter Fermenting with Cranberries and Honey!

Who else just loves cranberries? I find many are indifferent about them. “They taste good in some recipes but not on their own.” “I don’t like their tart flavor.” “I hate cranberry sauce.” That last one breaks my heart as someone that lives for that sauce on my turkey at Thanksgiving. This time of year is great for how plentiful these red fruit are especially in the US where they are from!

Especially in the fall and winter, stores will have fresh cranberries on sale and you may get more than you think you can use. I have of course made sauce, made some scones, cookies, oat bars, so many things to make! This year though I saw a newer experiment I wanted to try, honey fermented cranberries. Since I’ve been doing a lot more fermenting and playing with micro life, my social medias have turned into what I do and that means more ferments. Gotta love algorithms and how this is all connected. Scary sometimes but other times I don’t mind. Similar to the fermented garlic and honey and the pomegranates in honey, this was simple and just two ingredients. Unlike the others I’ve done, one important change is piercing or cutting the cranberries. Typically, I just throw them with honey and let it go but cranberries have a very resistance outer skin. Eventually they will break down with sugar but to help speed up this ferment, cutting or even using a fork to poke holes in the cranberries allow more water to freely move around and get the party started. That’s pretty much it! Get yourself some fresh cranberries, poke or cut them, mix with honey and let it go! This ferment for me took a bit longer than the others. That I know for sure has to do with the honey. I typically use some type of raw honey that way there are dormant micro life that will ferment and turn the mixture. This time I used a honey I got for the holidays that was delicious but processed with heat that killed them all off. Since there weren’t enough naturally in the mixture, they needed some time for airborne ones to take hold. Since I did not think that through, I used a lid and kept it close which also extended that time frame. With an open vessel covered with a tea towel, yeasts in the air get on and ferment but with so little getting in each day it took a couple weeks for things to really take off.

The first couple days the honey thinned out fast with the cranberries releasing water. They also shriveled and wrinkled up. I’m not super surprised by this but find it really interesting as they look like they are turning into craisins. The biggest thing I had to maintain each day was mixing it up. Since the cranberries are super boyant, they float in the honey and you need to try and keep them under honey to ferment well. A shake in the jar a couple times each day worked well and got things moving. After a couple weeks then some cultures had taken over and the fermenting really started. This one had a nice foam on top consistently and needed to be burped every few days. The smell was a bit off though, I’m not sure from the jar or the honey but it smelled a bit perfume-y. Not super worried though, I can make some stuff with this ferment like dressings or mix into recipes. Since it doesn’t smell as fermented as the others I may even make a soda with my new ginger bug! (I’ll talk more about that soon) Overall though just another fun ferment at home. It sits on the counter doing very little and needing little attention so I highly advise start throwing fruit in honey and have some fun with fermentation!

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