This post has affiliate links.
Currently thinking of Thanksgiving and the quintessential seasonal flavor of my must-try homemade cranberry sauce recipe. This post will help you make a not-too-sweet, not-too-tangy fermented cranberry sauce. Delightful for its make-ahead easiness!
If you are afraid to ferment because you are not sure how to keep contaminants out of your ferments, check out the special section at the bottom of the page. It explains a product called Easy Fermenter. I found out about it from our Facebook group, members recommended it in response to our sauerkraut recipe. It totally de-stressed my kitchen and ferment projects! I’m thinking it will help you, too!
Cranberry Sauce for Holiday Meals
Truly, most households notice the daily movement of time through the seasons in the kitchen. It seems that each month has its own flavor that reflects the local harvest, holidays, and even our personal life events. No time of year seems to evoke a more potent kitchen memory than the time of year we commonly call The Holidays. Just the mention of the words brings forward thoughts of crisp apples, pumpkin spice flavored everything, fresh baked cookies, warm and nourishing soups, and time for sit down meals with friends and family.
This fermented, homemade cranberry sauce recipe can be a part of a Holiday meal or labeled up and gifted. Mine rarely makes it past the meal its intended for. I find it addictive.
This recipe will be table ready in 5 days. The flavors only get better as time passes. Once refrigerated it will keep for a year.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe:
1 bag of fresh cranberries (12 ounces or 3 cups)
½ cup honey or pure cane sugar
1 tsp sea salt
apple, cored and diced
Juice and zest of one navel orange
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1-quart jar with lid
Plastic lid for mason jars and/or Easy Fermenter
First, we need to sort and break up the cranberries. Rinse your cranberries in a colander and allow to drain. Then sort through, removing any cranberries that are soft. Throw them in the compost or feed them to your chickens. To mash them, you can either pour them into a glass bowl and use a potato masher, or you can pulse a couple times in a food processor.
Either way, the cranberries need to end up in the glass bowl. Fermentation is best made in glass dishes and stirred with wooden utensils. For more about the whys of fermentation, click here.
Add the remainder of the ingredients to the bowl and stir together with your wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into your glass mason jar and stir again to remove any air bubbles. Then, the ferment needs to be covered in a way that allows the CO2 to escape while not allowing contaminants into the mixture. I use a plastic caps made especially for mason jars or the Easy Fermenter, see below. Set the jar at room temperature in a location free of direct sunlight.
If you do not use the Easy Fermenter mix this daily to eliminate the risk of mold growing on top of the ferment. Taste after 5 days to begin gauging the level of sour/tanginess you desire. When you have the flavor you enjoy, refrigerate. The longer the ferment sits, the more the flavors will mature and mingle. I would leave at least 2 weeks for refrigeration, but it is ready after 5 days. The cranberry sauce has a one-year shelf life once refrigerated, but I bet it won’t last that long!
Get yourself some smaller jars for gifting the fermented cranberry sauce. I use 4-ounce mason jars with plastic caps. The acid in ferments can corrode the traditional metal caps of mason jars and should be avoided or covered with plastic wrap. Write a label with ingredients and tie it to the jar with twine for a decorative presentation.
The Easy Fermenter
After several years of fermenting, I developed a fairly routine process. I either used the plastic caps, as mentioned above, or I used an airlock for the countertop fermentation period. In the summer months, when I am busy and the kitchen is hot, my ferments often spoiled because I did not check on them daily. Then, a community member asked if I had ever used the Easy Fermenter. I hadn’t and asked other community members about this top to mason jars specifically designed to keep mold and other contaminants at bay. The response was overwhelmingly positive, so I ordered a kit. Now it is my default lid for countertop ferments.
The lid is an airlock system that comes with a plunger designed to express out all excess air in the jar. It creates a vacuum that can absorb the CO2 from the fermentation process without allowing in mold or bad bacteria. I was a little worried about this recipe because it is very thick and there’s really no way to have the brine above the solids. After 5 days on the countertop, I had no mold. I stirred the sauce before tasting. It was perfect.
When you order the kit, make sure you get the one with the pump. If you decide you want more later, you can order just the lids without the pump.
I would hate for you to try a fermentation project, have unwanted mold at the top of your food, and give up on kitchen fermentation. Here’s why:
- Store bought ferments are expensive.
- The benefits to your gut biome are better when food is created in your kitchen, building on existing microbiota in your kitchen ecosystem.
- I think you are more likely to eat food you make, eliminating food waste.
As always, if you try this recipe, with or without the Easy Fermenter, please leave a comment below or email me with results, feedback, recommendations. Thanks!