Honey-fermented cranberries are a flavorful and visually stunning fermented berry recipe you can make with minimal effort. These Lacto-fermented cranberries are sweet and tart and make a great gift for the holiday season.
I am a big fan of cranberry sauce or chutney, but when I learned that you can ferment fruit in honey, I decided to try it as part of a fermentation project. I was surprised to find that fermenting with honey is the simplest method, and I wish I had started earlier.
How does Honey Fermentation work?
It is a process in which honey is used as a primary source of sugar for fermentation.
The natural bacteria in cranberries will ferment the sugars in the honey, creating lactic acid. The lactic acid will act as a natural preservative and impart a characteristic sour flavor to the cranberries.
It’s essential to use raw honey that hasn’t been pasteurized or treated in any way to contain still the wild yeast and bacteria that will help ferment.
How do you know your honey ferment working?
The bubbles are a good indication that fermentation is taking place. As the yeast ferments the sugars in the honey, it produces a gas – carbon dioxide, creating bubbles.
As the fermentation progresses, the mixture will become sourer and sourer, and the alcohol content will increase. You can taste it by taking small mix samples at regular intervals.
A good rule of thumb is to let the cranberries ferment for at least one week, but it’s a good idea to taste them after a week and then every day or two after that to gauge how sour you like them.
Why make fermented cranberries?
Cranberries are naturally acidic and contain natural preservatives, making them a great fermentation candidate.
To create unique and delicious flavors, you can customize the process by adding different cranberry ingredients, such as honey, ginger, or spices.
Fermentation increases the number of probiotics and beneficial bacteria that can improve gut health.
It is a cost-effective way to preserve cranberries and make them last longer.
What Lacto fermented cranberries in honey taste?
While the honey brings a subtle sweetness to the cranberries, the fermentation process imparts a tangy and sour taste, similar to traditional fermented foods like sauerkraut or pickles.
In addition, honey-fermented cranberries may have a slight effervescence due to the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation, which can add to the overall taste experience.
Honey Fermented Cranberries Recipe
First step – smash up the cranberries.
Rinse and smash up the fresh cranberries a bit to burst their skin. Prick each with a fork or toothpick, or use a food processor or potato masher.
Second step – combine them with other ingredients.
Place them in a sterilized mason jar with a tight-fitting lid and add a cinnamon stick, slice of ginger, orange zest, and salt.
Third step – pour over an orange juice.
Juice the orange and pour it into the jar, leaving the seeds out.
Fourth step – add honey or maple syrup.
Add honey or maple syrup, leaving 1 inch of headspace, cover the cranberries and tighten the lid. You can use a fermentation weight to submerge the cranberries in the liquid. Cranberries are especially floaty; you need to keep them submerged in the honey, so I was glad to have it.
Fifth step – allow fermentation to begin.
Let it ferment at room temperature (around 70-75F) for at least one week, ideally for 1-2 weeks. Then, every couple of days, give a jar a few turns. I like to use my kitchen counter, a place that is out of direct sunlight so that I can see and control the process.
Sixth step – Formation of the bubbles.
Within a week, you will see tiny bubbles beginning to form. From that moment, you can taste them and see if you like their taste or if you prefer to keep the process going. It can go on for months, and the mixture will change. Over time the honey will turn a pretty red color and more liquid. The cranberries may become slightly less tart and wrinklier. When you decide to stop the fermentation, store it in the fridge or chilled place for possibly twelve months or longer. Then, you can eat them anytime.
Note: The orange juice citrus flavor nicely complements the natural tartness of the cranberries.
When using orange juice, it’s crucial to use fresh-squeezed orange juice rather than store-bought orange juice, as it has added preservatives that could affect the fermentation process.
In addition, use raw honey that contains beneficial bacteria and wild yeast necessary for successful fermentation. Reach out to your local beekeeper; they may sell raw honey directly to you.
Can you use frozen cranberries for this recipe?
Frozen cranberries are a great way to enjoy the tartness and sweet flavor of cranberries without worrying about them going bad too quickly. Take the frozen cranberries out of the freezer and let them thaw for about 10 minutes before using them in your recipe. The thawed cranberries will be slightly softer than fresh ones, but they still have all the same flavor and nutrition benefits. They may not look as pretty as fresh ones, but they will still taste delicious! Similarly, you can use dry cranberries.
How do you eat fermented honey cranberries?
Honey-fermented cranberries are a versatile food that one can eat in a variety of ways:
- You can eat them straight out of the jar as a healthy and flavorful snack. Place them in a decorative bowl, then drizzle with maple syrup or honey. Include some toothpicks for guests to pierce one with and then pop into their mouths.
- Add them to your Homemade Fresh Cranberry Salad for flavor and color.
- Use them as a topping for sandwiches for a tangy and sour contrast to the flavors of the sandwich.
- Fermented cranberries are the perfect topping on yogurt, granola, or keto overnight oats for a delicious breakfast.
- They look gorgeous on top of ice cream for a unique and delicious dessert.
- Make this recipe as a condiment to enhance the flavor of different dishes, such as meat, poultry, fish or vegetables.
- Add them to your favorite cocktail like this cranberry gin spritz, cranberry mimosa, or mulled wine for a unique and delicious twist on the traditional recipe.
- Sprinkle them as a topping or filling in pieces or tarts
- Served it as a cranberry orange relish or fresh cranberry sauce during your thanksgiving dinner.
Botulism is a concern when consuming any fermented or canned food that is not processed correctly, as the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which produces the deadly neurotoxin botulin, can grow in these conditions. However, it’s important to note that botulism is very rare in fermented cranberries, as honey’s sugar content is not conducive to the growth of C. botulinum.