Winter Fermenting with Cranberries and Honey!

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

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!


 

UPDATE!


I need to do an update on this one. I took a bit of time to think about things to do with the ferment, especially the cranberries now that they have fermented and shriveled up. What’s the best thing to make with cranberries? Cranberry sauce! I figured the fermentation would add a nice alcohol/acidic flavor to it and let me tell you it was a great idea.

First I strained off the fermented honey. It’s super thin so it was quick and easy. I tasted it on its own just to see what I can do with it. It has a nice cranberry flavor but honestly tastes a bit like cough syrup. I probably won’t be making anything sweet with it but more so keeping it for dressings and non-cooked foods. I want to keep those microlife forms for the health benefits! Most of the time I’ve been adding a spoonful to iced tea to get those probiotic benefits in fresh tea on a warm day.

As for the cranberries, once drained I just popped them into a food processor! Super easy. I went for a more traditional cranberry sauce flavor profile but didn’t cook them since it was fermented. A little brown sugar, orange zest, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and a bit of cardamom. Pulsed to grind and added a little fresh orange juice to get to a good consistency. I like it a little thicker but you can add more juice or some of the fermented honey to thin it out. That’s it! All done and ready to enjoy.

It ended up sitting in the fridge a couple weeks and then one day I realized I had two packs of cream cheese that were close to going bad. What do you do with cream cheese you need to get rid of? Cheesecake! I love cheesecake so much so this was an easy idea to whip up. I wanted to keep the micolife of course, so I went for a no bake cheesecake instead of the traditional baked style. Simple graham cracker crust, two ingredients filling (if you don’t count vanilla and salt), and then some fermented cranberry sauce mixed in. Below is the recipe if you are feeling like a nice cheesecake without turning the oven on. This is perfect for hot summer days. For now, I’m going to go get a slice of cheesecake pie and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

 

Fermented Cranberry Sauce Cheesecake Pie

16 ea. (2 packs) Graham Crackers 140g (10 tbsp) Unsalted Butter, melted 2 8-ounce packs Cream Cheese, softened 1 14-oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk Splash Vanilla Pinch Salt 4 Big Spoonfuls Fermented Cranberry Sauce

  1. In a food processor, grind the graham crackers into crumbs.

  2. Add the melted butter and blend into the crust.

  3. Press into a pie pan and refrigerate until needed.

  4. In a mixing bowl, place the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk.

  5. Beat with a paddle attachment until smooth. This can take a bit but let it keep going.

  6. Add vanilla and beat in.

  7. Spread mixture into prepared pie pan.

  8. Dollop fermented cranberry sauce on top and swirl in.

  9. Refrigerate overnight.

  10. Cut, serve, and enjoy!