Kicked up with the Chinese 5-Spice Blend, lacto-fermented apple chutney has been rocking our house lately. I can’t keep enough of it on hand for the kids. They love to put a scoop of it in a bowl of kefir. We just went through 1/2 gallon of it in 3 days — and that was with me telling them not to take so much!
If you’ve not heard of Chinese 5-Spice, you’ll want to listen up, and then get or make some. (And then make the chutney, too, of course.) It is an amazing blend of five spices. Truly, the person who combined them was inspired.
You’ll find 5-spice in nice herb/spice departments, or you can easily make it yourself by mixing together equal parts of (all ground) anise, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and fennel. We often use it instead of cinnamon in oatmeal during the winter (see my 5-spice oatmeal), or muesli during the summer. People say that 5-spice is wonderful in marinades and rubs for meat. Delish!
Update Saturday 8/28/2010: I just made up a new batch of 5-spice, this time using spices from Mountain Rose Herbs. Oh, my! The best mix yet — very fragrant. I wish you could smell my kitchen!
I’m helping to host the Nourishing Jams, Jellies, Preserves and More! Blog Hop, along with Pamela and Diana. My contribution is the following recipe for 5-spice apple chutney. Please visit the blog hop post where you’ll be able to see other preserves using natural sweeteners and/or natural methods of preservation.
Even though I’ve done my fair share of jams over the years, this year I really wanted to experiment more with chutneys and lacto-fermentation. At the moment, apples are pretty much the only chutney-suitable seasonal fruit available, so… apples got me started! We selected a box of local Gravenstein apples grown near the Umpqua River from a man who follows natural, beyond organic, growing methods. Oh, his apples are wonderful, worms and all! Don’t worry, there weren’t actually that many worms, and none of them got in the chutney.
I’m pretty much hooked on lacto-fermented chutneys. Talk about easy and satisfying. Nothing easier than doing some chopping, mixing, packing in a crock or jar, and waiting. The waiting is the hardest work. I’m eager for the pears, plums, and cherries to come in season so I can make other chutneys.
Why lacto-fermented? Lacto-fermented foods offer beneficial organisms to keep our guts healthy and our digestion optimum, and increased vitamins and enzymes. Foods preserved through lacto-fermentation are more nutritious than in their raw or cooked state. With canned and cooked produce, enzymes and vitamins are lost, and beneficial organisms are not given an opportunity to culture.
The downside with lacto-fermented fruit and vegetables is that they require cool storage after the fermentation stage is over. After that, the lacto-fermented fruits last only a few weeks. One must freeze them for long-term storage. Don’t despair, though! This is not so much a reason to avoid making lacto-fermented foods, but instead is an encouragement to embrace the seasonal opportunities that come our way. In other words, think not of extending the seasons, but rather embracing what the seasons offer.
Let’s get to the recipe.
5-Spice Apple Chutney (Lacto-Fermented)
Makes 1/2 gallon or 2 quarts.
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup whey
- 1 cup water
- 6 cups coarsely chopped apples*
- 1/4 cup Rapadura, Sucanat, palm sugar or other natural sweetener
- 1 cup chopped pecans or other nut**
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 tablespoons 5-spice blend
*Wash, quarter, and core the apples, then coarsely chop by hand or in the food processor.
**I don’t believe the nuts need to be soaked ahead of time, as the fermentation should neutralize enzyme inhibitors.
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Transfer to one clean half gallon jar, two quart jars, or a crock. Pack down so all ingredients are covered in liquid, and at least 1/2″ below the rim of the container. Add more water if necessary to submerge all ingredients. Cover tightly. My crock doesn’t have a lid, so I covered it with plastic wrap and secured it with a rubber band.
Let sit out at room temperature for two to three days. Daily, or as necessary, check for any mold growing on the surface and skim away, repacking carefully. Taste for desired texture. If the weather is very hot, fermentation may only take a day or so. Burp the jar if necessary (to prevent explosions). When you’re happy with the taste and texture, transfer to the refrigerator in an airtight container. Will keep for a few weeks.
Repack the storage container carefully after each dipping. Now wasn’t that easy?
You might also want to check out some jams I’ve posted in the past: Chunky Spiced Pear Jam and Blackberry Jam. Both feature Pomona’s Pectin as the non-sugar-dependent natural pectin. I look forward to your contributions in the Nourishing Jams, Jellies, Preserves and More! Blog Hop.
I’m also sharing this post with Fight Back Friday!