I’m currently on vacation in the agricultural center of California surrounded by amazing orchards. Back home in North Dakota, I’m used to seeing sunflower, wheat and corn fields. Driving down the road here the other day I spotted a pomegranate orchard. Did you know pomegranates grow on trees?! I know they have to come from somewhere but seeing them growing on trees just struck me as amazing. It’s not something I see ever.
My brother-in-law is in the orchard business. He’s the expert citrus dude. I’m determined to grow an orange tree in North Dakota and he says I can. Inside with a grow light. Now I’m trying to figure out how to bring one home with me. He grows some a wide variety of specialty trees, many of which we got to sample the other day. One crazy fruit they call Australian Caviar (but it’s actually a finger lime I guess) you slit open the side of this purplish pinkie sized lime and the insides pour out like caviar. Another fruit is a cross between a kumquat and a mandarin, a kumdarin… manquat? Anyway, you know how you eat the skin of a kumquat but the rest is too sour to eat? Well this awesome fruit has the yummy peel of a kumquat and the juicy sweetness of a mandarin. How cool is that?!
So being surrounded by all this fruit, of course my mind goes to fermentation. One of the specialties in this area is apricots. Apricots picked fresh off the tree are amazing. The kids end up a sticky mess with juice running down to their elbows and dripping on their feet but it’s worth it. The beauties pictured above are pluots (mix between a plum and an apricot) given to us from my sister-in-law’s father who works at a packing place. Not good enough for the store but good enough for me. I think they are amazing.
I get quite a few questions about fermenting fruits and you’ll probably notice, I don’t have very many fruit ferments in the recipe section. It’s just for the simple reason that I don’t do a whole lot of fruit ferments. I ferment foods not just for the health benefit but also as a way to preserve the food for longer periods of time. Fruit ferments just don’t keep that long. You have to eat them up within a few weeks or they begin to turn to alcohol. I prefer to just use fruit to add to ferments like water kefir, milk kefir, kombucha and yogurt or to eat it fresh.
But there are some great ways to make and use fermented fruits. Chutneys and fruit spreads are two great uses.
Basic Fruit Ferment Recipe
- 4 cups pureed or chopped fruit (apples, peaches, apricots, pineapple, etc or a mixture to include onions and peppers)
- 5 gms sea salt
- 1/8 tsp Caldwell’s Starter mixed in a tablespoon of water (optional but recommended)*
- optional nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans…)
- optional sweetener (added after fermentation)
Simply mix the fruit, salt, starter and nuts (in using) and place in a fermentation vessel. Fill jar at least 75% but no higher than the shoulder. Use a spatula to remove any bubbles and smooth out the top.
If you would like to add nuts, just sub in 1/4 to 1/2 cup walnuts, pecans or almonds in place of the same amount of fruit puree.
Let set at room temp for 12-24 hours. If you house is cooler than 72F, 24 hours is fine. If it’s warmer than that, ferment a shorter time. If your house is warmer than 80F, I suggest fermenting in the warmest part of your refrigerator for 2-3 days (that’s the top shelf toward the front or in the door).
Eat within 4 weeks of fermenting. Longer than that an it will begin to turn to alcohol. You can freeze the ferment to keep it longer.
If the ferment is a little more sour than you like, feel free to add a touch of honey, maple syrup or sucanat after fermenting. Avoid adding it before fermenting to keep the alcohol levels low.
*Using a starter like Caldwell’s will help keep the ferment from going alcoholic if you are wanting to avoid that. Adding the bacteria will help the good lactic acid bacteria take off before the alcohol producing yeast do. If you don’t mind a little punch to your ferment, leave it out and label it for “Adult Consumption”.
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