I recently tried a new base material for lactofermentation, apples. This was the first time I have tried fermenting fruit. Although I was warned by a friend that I wouldn’t get good results because the apples weren’t crisp fall apples, I already had the apples and decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did. This chutney has now mellowed into a delightful and well-balanced blend of flavors: salty, sweet and sour. It’s received good reviews from friends.
My recipe follows. It was based on a recipe in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. Of course, I altered the ingredients somewhat, adjusting to what I had available and to what I thought would taste good. I encourage you to be flexible and experiment, too. Fermentation is as much art as science. Below the recipe are some comments on what I did and how long it took for a nice flavor to develop.
Bob’s Fruit & Nut Chutney
3 chopped Fuji apples
2 lemons (juice and grated peel)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup whey (strained from yogurt)
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. fennel
I used a half-gallon glass jar, with a lid modified to hold a standard beer-brewing airlock/bubbler. I simply mixed the ingredients in a bowl, put into the jar and mashed them down to try to cover everything with liquid. The above recipe filled the jar a little more than half full. There was a little fruit left uncovered, so I added extra water. I was in a hurry, so wasn’t thinking carefully about adding the water. As a result, I added a full cup of extra water, when I only needed about 1/3 cup extra. This probably diluted the whey and salt enough to slow the fermentation process somewhat. Despite this mistake, it worked. I think lactofermentation is a pretty forgiving process.
I wasn’t able to see any noticeable fermentation taking place. That is, there was no obvious bubbling in the airlock. So, it was a slow process. After four days, it was reasonably edible, although at that point the salty flavor was stronger than I would have liked. I put it in the refrigerator to slow the process. Ten days later, the flavors had mellowed, with the salty flavor diminishing and the sour taste increasing. In the future, I think I should let it go two to four days longer before refrigeration.