It’s November already. I’m not sure how that happened, but it did. (Well, okay, I know how it happened, it just sort of came more quickly than I expected.) And because it’s November, that means that Thanksgiving is only 3 weeks away, at least here in the U.S. Which also means that I begin my yearly obsessing about what to cook.
Over the last couple of years, the decision of what to cook (and eat) has been more of an issue than in the past. Before we changed our diet, our Thanksgiving menu was pretty cut and dried – I had a very traditional menu that we all enjoyed. But when we cut out grains, refined sugars and vegetable oils, that changed. Oh, the first year I kept a lot of the dishes (my grandmother’s cornbread dressing and pumpkin pie comes immediately to mind) and reworked others to make them fit our new way of eating (green bean casserole). This year, however, things have changed because wheat and dairy will be completely absent from my table.
Hey, if I’m cooking the darn meal, I want to be able to eat it.
One thing that will unquestionably be part of our Thanksgiving meal, though, is this. I have an old, tried and true cranberry sauce recipe that I love, but in terms of sugar it’s probably 60% by volume. The last two years I made a different recipe made with far less sugar (and red wine!), and it’s pretty good, but it just wasn’t quite the same. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to start a couple of ferments. One was kimchi, and the other was, well, this.
Fermented Cranberry-Orange Chutney.
And it is so, so, so, so, SO good.
I was going to hold this back for the cookbook (which will be finished one day, I promise), but I’ve gotten so many requests to post it, I decided to give in. And because it takes a little while for ferments to “mature,” I figured the sooner the better, although you could probably start this 3 or 4 days before Thanksgiving and it would be fine. But if you want the full benefits – and flavor – of the fermentation, start it a week before you serve it. It makes quite a bit – 2 quarts – so you’ll have plenty leftover, too. It will keep for at least a month, and perhaps longer. Just keep in mind it will grow more tart the longer it ages.
(Some sources say you should eat a fruit ferment within 3 weeks, and others say they will last for many months. Use your best judgement – if it begins to smell bad (a healthy ferment will not) throw it away.)
Note: The recipe calls for whey. It’s not completely necessary – the chutney will ferment without it – it will just take longer. You can obtain the whey by tying a cup or so of full-fat yogurt in a cheesecloth and suspending it over a clean glass or jar in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. The cloudy liquid that drains into the container is the whey. You can use what is left in the cheesecloth like you would cream cheese.
Edited to add: I’ve a minor change to the recipe – the addition of filtered water, if needed. The beneficial bacteria reproduce best in an anaerobic environment, so you want to keep the submerged beneath the liquid. This is also the purpose of the coconut oil; it will harden and act as a weight or plug, keeping the ferment adequately submerged. It should be returned to the ferment every time you put it back in the refrigerator; if it breaks into small pieces, simply throw it away and add more melted coconut oil to replace the old.
- makes 2 quarts
- 3 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 cup pecans
- 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
- 2 tsp of sea salt
- 2 tablespoons whey
- 1/2 cup apple cider or juice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1 orange, chopped including peel
- juice from 1 orange
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1 cup of raisins
- Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until uniformly chopped. Transfer to a large, nonreactive mixing bowl and stir in the raisins. Pack into 2 clean quart jars; add filtered water to cover, if necessary. Top with melted coconut oil and seal tightly.
- Leave on the counter, out of the sun, for 2 to 3 days, or until the mixture begins to bubble. Transfer to the refrigerator to store.
- Nutrition (per serving): 30 calories, 1.3g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 59.6mg sodium, 42.5mg potassium, 5.1g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 3.3g sugar, <1g protein