Does this sound familiar? You go to the grocery store or the farmers’ market, constantly looking for the best, most nutrient dense fruits and veggies to feed your family. Often you come home disappointed because you know that a lot of the choices we have were picked before they were ripe and at their nutritional peak.
Well, what would you say if I told you that there’s a was to bump up the nutrition in fruits and veggies? Cuz there is a way to do that. It’s called lacto-fermentation. This is a food preservation technique that has been used for thousands of years. Not only does it make food keep longer, but it can actually increase the levels of vitamins and enzymes in the food. And it’s chock full of probiotics! Talk about a win-win!
So a note before we get started. This chutney uses a starter culture to get the fermentation process going. There are several things you can use as a starter culture. Whey that is left over from cheese making will work, as will any other ferment. I used some grape water kefir that I had in the fridge. You can also order a starter culture here.
You don’t have to make this as a ferment, you can just make it and put it in the fridge right away. If you want to so that only use half the amount of sugar and only add enough water to get all the spices distributed evenly. It won’t keep as long and won’t have any probiotic benefits for you, but it will still be really yummy!
Apple Cherry Pecan Chutney
- 6 cups coarsely chopped apples ~ I used 3 large Red Delicious
- 2 cups pitted and quartered sweet cherries
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- starter culture ~ rule of thumb is 1/4 cup of starter for every quart of fruit
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup natural sweetener
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
This made almost 3 quarts for me because I like big chunks of fruit. The smaller you cut the pieces, the less room they take up in the jars.
Wash, quarter, and core the apples. Then chop them coarsely.
Put the apples into a large mixing bowl. As you chop the apples toss them into the lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Next, wash, pit, and quarter the sweet cherries and add them to the apples.
Now for the pecans. I only used 1 cup because I am almost out of pecans and I use them in a lot of things. Hopefully those pesky squirrels have left some for us this year.
Mix all the rest of the ingredients into the fruit mixture. Transfer to a clean jar or jars. Pack it all down and submerge the ingredients. Everything should be at least 1 inch from the top of the jar. Add more water if necessary. Cover tightly.
You can use regular jars for the fermentation step, or you can use fermentation vessels that are made specifically for this purpose. It works equally well in either.
If you are using a fermentation vessel add the weights, put on the lid, and attach the airlock. For a regular canning jar, the canning lids and rings work great. If you are using another kind of jar, cover the top with plastic wrap before putting the lid on. You are wanting to keep out as much oxygen as possible. I would normally use quart jars for this chutney, but this time I used a gallon jar because I didn’t have enough quart jars that were clean at the time. In order to keep everything submerged in a quart jar I usually add a small mouth jar lid on the top if the ferment and press it down. That usually works quite well.
But for this jar I used a gallon baggie filled with water and just put it into the top of the jar. While the baggie probably sealed it pretty well, I still put plastic wrap over the top before I put the lid on the jar. The weird color at the top is where some of the liquid migrated up between the baggie and the jar.
Then we let this sit out at room temperature for two or three days. I put mine on top of the fridge so it’s out of the way but I can still see it. Still seeing ferments is a very, very good thing! Check the chutney daily for any mold growing on the surface and if there is just skim it off. Everything below the level if the liquid will be just fine.
If the weather is very warm, fermentation may only take a day. Or it may take 3 or 4. Burp the jar periodically to release the gasses from the fermentation process. Please, please, please make sure you do this. Remember what happens when you don’t burp a baby? Yup. Just like that. Trust me on this…
There will be bubbles in the jar when you open it. Kinda like this:
Taste the chutney when you burp the jar. When it has reached a taste and texture that you like, move it to cold storage or your refrigerator. The longer it ferments the softer the fruit will be and the less sweet it will become. After you remove some of the chutney from the jar, repack it by pressing what’s left back under the liquid. This Apple Cherry Pecan Chutney will only keep for about 2 to 3 weeks before it begins to turn to alcohol.
Because a lot of the sugar is used during the fermentation process, this is not overly sweet. I eat it just by itself and also over yogurt. It’s equally amazing as a topping for pancakes or sourdough waffles. You could also use it as a side with some grilled or roasted meat. Or spoon it over the top of your soaked oatmeal. Or maybe even go a little crazy and put it on ice cream!
How would you like to eat this wonderfully probiotic chutney?
More fermenting stuff you need to make: