When it comes to Thanksgiving, one staple that everyone looks forward to is cranberry sauce. However, people who want to save time usually settle for supermarket-bought cranberry sauce — the gelatinous, canned version that has little resemblance to fresh cranberries.
Why settle for artificially flavored and (most likely) preservative-loaded canned cranberries when you can make your own delicious cranberry sauce at home? Here’s how you can take it up a notch: Ferment the cranberries to bring out their natural sweetness and flavor.
This Festive Fermented Cranberries recipe is pretty simple, but the fermentation process takes a few days, so I suggest making this ahead of time so it will be ready for Thanksgiving. You can also use your leftover fresh cranberries from Thanksgiving to make this healthy snack instead of having them go to waste.
Festive Fermented Cranberries Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Fermenting Time: 4 to 7 days
- 1 12-ounce bag of fresh whole organic cranberries (not frozen)
- Juice from 1 organic orange
- 1 small thumb of fresh ginger, minced (1 - 2 tsp.)
- 1/2 cup freshly juiced celery
- 1 organic Granny Smith apple, juiced
Serving Size: 24 ounces of fermented cranberries
- Place whole cranberries in food processor and pulse three to five times until most berries pop.
- Place cranberries in a Mason jar.
- Combine celery brine with culture starter and mix.
- Combine juiced apple and monk fruit and mix.
- Add celery brine, apple juice, cinnamon stick, cloves and minced ginger in the jar with the cranberries.
- Place small strainer over jar and juice the orange by hand. Remove strainer, and then add honey if you’re adding it.
- Fill the jar with filtered water, leaving about a 1- to 2-inch space from the top.
- Screw on the lid and then shake well, incorporating everything.
- Unscrew lid, and place a cabbage leaf and a small glass on top to weigh down berries. The goal is to have the berries completely submerged in the liquid.
- Screw on Dr. Mercola lid and store in a dark place for four to seven days. Do not screw the lid tightly – you’ll want to keep it loose so the gas can escape the jar.
If you add one tablespoon of brine from another fermented food it may help speed up the process.
Fermenting Offers a Wide Range of Health Benefits
It’s great to know that consumer behavior is now changing when it comes to food. As an article in Epoch Times1 noted, people are now becoming weary of processed fare and their suspicious health claims, and are now reembracing more traditional foods and relearning ancient culinary methods like fermentation.
This is certainly good news, because fermented foods are one of the two kinds of foods (the other is fiber-rich foods) that I always advise people to eat daily. Traditionally fermented foods are essential for maintaining healthy gut flora, which can benefit your overall health.
Remember that various factors such as diet, lifestyle and chemical exposures can rapidly alter your microbiome. By reseeding your gut with healthy bacteria from fermented foods, you can effectively improve and optimize your gut flora, allowing you to reap benefits such as:
- Help your body produce vitamins, amino acids (protein precursors) and absorb minerals
- Counteract inflammation and control the growth of disease-causing bacteria
- Reduce your risk of allergies and control asthma
- Impact your weight
- Benefit your mood and mental health
Fermented foods are also potent chelators (detoxifiers) that can help break down and eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from your body. Although a high-quality probiotic supplement can also provide all these benefits, I believe that eating fermented foods is a less expensive yet more efficient option.
Remember that different types of fermented foods contain disparate bacteria, so it’s best to eat various types to ensure microbial diversity. Other fermented foods you can try include natto, sauerkraut and kefir and yogurt made from raw milk. You can also use a starter culture to help give your fermented foods a boost in vitamins (such as the recipe above does), as well as give you a consistent, high-quality end product.
I recommend reading this article for more useful tips on making your own fermented foods. While most of the advice here is geared toward culturing vegetables, there are some that are still applicable to fermenting fruits and other foods.
Fresh (or Fermented) Cranberries Are a Nutritional Powerhouse
As early as the 19th century, cranberries have been used as a sauce and as a side dish in the U.S., and Native Americans even used them as both food and medicine.2 But today, people are exchanging fresh cranberries for highly processed canned versions — potentially missing out on a lot of nutrients this humble fruit offers.
Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients like anthocyanidin flavonoids (which give them their bright red color), oligomeric proanthocyanidins, peonidin, cyanidin and quercetin. These have stroke- and cardiovascular disease-preventing compounds that prevent bad cholesterol formation in the heart and blood vessels.3
Cranberries also provide protection against cancer, particularly breast, lung, colon and prostate cancers.4 They are high in fiber as well as vitamins C and E.
When purchasing fresh cranberries, make sure to check the bag thoroughly to ensure that there are no soft or mushy berries, and that liquid hasn’t collected inside the bag. Cranberries are best kept in the fridge, and will stay fresh for a month. To prolong their shelf life, aside from fermenting, they can be stored in the freezer, where they can be used for a year or so.5
As with most fruits, cranberries contain fructose, which can be harmful to your health in excessive amounts. Consume them in moderation if you’re struggling with diabetes, obesity and other insulin-related health conditions.
These Health-Promoting Ingredients Will ‘Spice Up’ Your Cranberry Sauce
You can use a variety of spices to complement and enhance the natural sweetness and mild tartness of the fermented cranberries, making them feast-worthy. Take a look at just how these flavor-giving ingredients can benefit you:
- Cinnamon — Since the ancient times, this warming spice has been valued for its medicinal, culinary and natural preservative powers. Its cinnamaldehyde content is said to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.6 Cinnamon also boosts brain function7 and promotes weight loss.8
- Cloves — A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods has found that out of 24 herbs and spices tested, cloves ranked first in terms of effectiveness against quelling inflammation.9
- Ginger — Aside from helping alleviate motion sickness, nausea and digestive upset, ginger has shown promise against cancer and diabetes,10, 11 and may help protect against respiratory viruses as well.12
Sources and References