Canning & Preserving, Fermentation Recipes, Fermented Food, Spices and Condiment Recipes

Lacto-fermented Cranberry Apple Butternut Relish

Amber Shehan November 29, 2014

Cranberries are so ubiquitous to fall feasts, why not try something new? Give your next dinner table a bit of zip with a salty, sour, sweet fermented cranberry relish!


Cranberries are delicious! Their tart, sometimes bitter flavor can enhance almost any meal, and they blend so well with both cinnamon and something sweet. I have a tradition of making a cranberry cordial every year, but this autumn I decided to try something a little different. Following my current trend of fermenting anything that isn’t glued down in the kitchen, you can guess what I did next.

As usual, my recipes tend to be made on the fly and they are based on whatever happens to be in my fridge or pantry at the moment. Alongside the cranberries, I had most of a butternut squash and some nice, firm Pink Lady apples from Mother Earth Produce. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, but I’m sure you could easily substitute ingredients without any problems as long as the salinity is correct.

Lacto fermented cranberry apple butternut relish

Lacto-Fermented Cranberry Apple Butternut Relish

  • 2 cups of cranberries (1 bag)
  • 2-inch thumb of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 firm apple, diced
  • 1 cup of peeled butternut squash, diced (reserve one good long slice of peel)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 pods of star anise
  • Himalayan Sea Salt (or another fine-grained salt suitable for fermentation)
  • Wide mouth quart jar

My recipe was fermented in a wide-mouth quart jar using the salt brine method of lacto-fermentation. I use Himalayan Sea Salt and some handy fermentation lids for jars, although any fermentation method you prefer should work.

  • Pulse the cranberries and ginger together in a food processor or blender to bust up the cranberries a bit but don’t puree them – leave them chunky for a nice texture.
  • Add the cranberries, ginger, squash, and apples to the quart jar. Make it look fancy by adding them in layers!
  • Add in the cinnamon stick and star anise pods.
  • Slide the long strip of butternut squash peel into the jar. The skin has beneficial buggies to help start the fermentation.
  • Prepare a 2% salt brine, and pour it into the jar to cover the fruit.
  • Add the weight to push everything under the brine. (the most important thing!)
  • Close and seal your jar (or crock or whatever you are using).
  • Label the jar, sit back, and let it work its magic.

After one day, the brine should start to turn pink from the cranberries. It will continue to darken as the process goes on.

It might take a few days for the bubbles to start, but once it starts going, beware! I had to change the airlock three times during the fermentation process due to the very active bubbles forcing the pink brine up into the airlock.

A day or two after bubbles have started to appear, open the lid and taste a piece of fruit to see how you like it – from here on, it is up to you!  Taste it every few days until you like the texture and flavor of your ferment.

Once you are satisfied, swap out your fermenting lid for a regular storage lid and stick it in the fridge.

To serve, strain the salty, tangy scarlet colored brine from the relish, Reserve the brine to make an awesome cocktail or use it in shrubs, smoothies, or salad dressing. The strained relish is delicious as it is!  It fits in really well on a cheese board alongside bleu cheese or a sharp crumbly aged cheddar.

You can also blend the relish with some brown sugar to make a more traditionally sweet cranberry sauce. Even my picky eaters admitted that they liked it!

My next step is one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions…the day-after leftover sandwich made with turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, mayonnaise, and a bit of salt.

A few other fermented cranberry recipes from other bloggers:

Cultured Cranberry & Pomegranate Sauce from Musings of a Modern Hippie (fermented using kombucha)

Cultured Cranberry Sauce from Little Owl Crunchy Mama (lacto-fermentation)

Lacto-fermented Cranberry Apple Relish from Learning and Yearning (lacto-fermentation)

Lacto-fermented Cranberry Sauce from Gnowfglins (fermented with whey)

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Amber Shehan

Hi! I'm Amber Pixie, and this is my site. Enjoy the recipes, information, posts, and please feel free to message me if you have questions!


  1. […] of my favorite recent projects were made with Mother Earth Produce boxes: Lacto-Fermented Cranberry Relish and Apple-Daikon Radish Sauerkraut are just a […]

  2. […] take those fall flavors up a notch, try this lacto-fermented cranberry apple butternut relish from Pixies Pocket. Adding in butternut helps provide texture, and the nutty squash flavors will […]

  3. […] take those fall flavors up a notch, try this lacto-fermented cranberry apple butternut relish from Pixies Pocket. Adding in butternut helps provide texture, and the nutty squash flavors will […]

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