Lacto Fermented Cranberries
Updated: Nov 28, 2020
When cranberries are in season they are a great superfruit to buy and can be even healthier for you when fermented!
Cranberries already have a place in the cocktail world, but not in the best of ways (usually in the form of sugary juice in a plastic bottle) which is why it's time to revisit this ingredient especially when they are in season!
Using seasonal ingredients is a key pillar to being sustainable while fermenting is a key technique for becoming a more Sustainable Bartender.
Using this very traditional technique, bartenders can preserve fruits or vegetables for another season, using zero energy or electricity while causing no harm to the planet's environment! The type of fermentation we are going to do here is called Lacto Fermentation!
A Brief Explanation on Lacto Fermentation
Lacto Fermentation is a technique of introducing 'good bacteria' into foods to prevent any harmful organisms from decaying, molding or rotting.
All it requires is a fruit or veg, some salt, and an air-tight container where no air can get it.
Once lactic acid is generated from the fermentation, the newly formed 'good bacteria' act as a shield for the food they are inhabiting, and prevent any 'bad bacteria' from entering. This keeps the food safe to consume and with a longer shelf-life (great for sustainability).
Once these good bacteria are introduced, your food will change in taste taking on more tart, acidic, and funky flavors that can give your cocktails a unique edge with complex aromas and taste!
What a better way to separate yourself from the crowd also by making healthier ingredients, and being sustainable! Once you've reached the desired result from the fermentation, you can block the process by lowering the temperature. Simply do this by placing it in your fridge.
You can then choose to blend up your ferment and make a paste or pulp to add to your drinks for more umami, salty, and tart flavors!
Using Cranberries Behind the Bar
Cranberries have extremely tart flavors that need balancing in order to be enjoyed by our palettes.
Behind the bar, cranberries are usually used in the form of juice. The biggest problem is that most places use commercial juices that are packed with sugar and other preservatives that are far from fresh. On top of that, they are packed into single-use plastic bottles, many of which won't get recycled.
So how about taking a different approach by making a natural ferment. Once made, you can combine the ferment to make many different ingredients like relishes or chutneys to give complexity and texture to your drinks.
On top of that, I find that salty and umami ingredients can really make a difference in a drink that might be missing something.
For this recipe, you will need:
Reusable plastic Bag
Note that in this list I am using a plastic bag, but keep in mind that it is reusable! You will only be doing harm by using single-use plastic bags.
Most chefs and bartenders use vacuum sealing bags that are very bad for the environment and cannot be reused. The following process is much better for the environment and will have a similar result to vacuum sealing.
Just like anything sustainable, it takes responsibility and awareness. Stick to good quality that doesn't break and that you can reuse for a lifetime!
You can also use a lid to cap on, but you won't be able to see the level of CO2 being generated from the fermentation.
Part 1 Measure Everything & Wait
Grab your cranberries and measure them out.
For my recipe, I measured out 50g worth.
Now measure out your Salt. Make sure it is non-iodized otherwise it may not work!
Make sure that the salt you put in is at least 2% of the total weight of the cranberries that you are weighing.
So in this case you need just 1g.
If you are measuring more or fewer amounts of cranberries, always multiply your total weight of fruit to 0.02% to get the amount of salt you need.
So for example, if you want to ferment 250g of cranberries, do 250 x 0.02 which will equal 5g of salt.
It's that easy, just make sure that you put somewhere between 2% and 4% to not make it too salty for your cocktails! Before salting your cranberries, make sure to cut them in half. Cutting them in half will help get the salt inside of the fruit and make it ferment quicker.
Once halved, combine the cranberries and salt together and mix well.
Make sure to coat the cranberries completely with salt and stick them in a glass jar.
Cover the glass jar with a plastic bag. I am using a reusable ziplock bag and tying it with a rubber band.
You want to make sure that it is airtight and that no oxygen can make its way in.
You'll notice throughout the days that the bag will begin to inflate little by little which will help you understand when your ferment is ready!
Let it sit for 3 to 7 days at room temperature in a dark place in the house where no light is hitting.
Using Your Ferment
If you've let your ferment sit for at least three days, you should already see that the bag has filled up with a bit of gas.
The photo you see above was fermenting for 6 days.
Remove the bag and take a look at your cranberries. They should now look much redder and brighter than before. On top of that, if you smell them you can sense a funky taste to them that they don't have when they're fresh.
Finally, you have fermented cranberries that have a pretty long shelf life when they are in the fridge. There is so much you can do with them now.
You can make a fermented cranberry sauce, chutney, water, or relish just by using this base recipe. Choosing one of these will influence where you want to bring the flavor of your cocktail. The choice is yours.
If you want to use it right away, simply mash up the fermented cranberries into a relish to add barspoons worth into your drinks.
Once finished there are some specific cocktails out there that would make this ingredient stand out!
Try it in a Paloma, Garibaldi, Salty Dog, or Cosmopolitan.
This ingredient works really well with Grapefruit and Orange Juice based cocktails, as well as clear spirits like Vodka, Gin, and Tequila Plata!
Try it on this twist of a Salty Dog!
Salty Dog Twist
90ml Grapefruit Juice (fresh)
15ml Grapefruit Oleo
1 Barspoon Lacto Fermented Cranberries
Shake & Strain
Garnish with Grapefruit Peel.
Fresh, funky, and...SALTY! This is a great drink to
enjoy on a hot day, but with an added
layer of flavor from the ferment.