Fermented Cranberry-Orange-Apple Relish

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Cranberries are in season. I recently tweaked my mom’s famous cranberry-orange-apple relish recipe to add a fermentation stage. Natural fermentation adds probiotic benefits and beneficial acids for the gut, as well as increases the vitamins and enzymes. As if that weren’t enough, this relish (like many other lacto-fermented foods) is incredibly yummy. If you start a batch early this week, it will be ready for Christmas dinner. And might I suggest doubling or tripling the recipe? You’ll like it that much.

Water kefir provides a dairy-free means of fermenting; even if one didn’t need dairy-free, I prefer the results over that of using whey!

I included this recipe in a recent weekly menu plan. I’m enjoying putting together the menu plans because it encourages me to work on at least one new fermentation project each week. Good for my family, and good for you.

Intrigued by lacto-fermentation? Learn more about its benefits in this post.

Fermented Cranberry-Orange-Apple Relish Ingredients

  • 2 oranges, peeled and quartered, seeds removed
  • 2 apples, washed and quartered, cores removed
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup rapadura or sucanat
  • 1/4 cup whey or water kefir

Fermented Cranberry-Orange-Apple Relish Method

Makes 1 quart. Combine all ingredients in food processor. Pulse to chop; don’t puree. Pack into a clean, quart-size, wide mouth jar. Wipe threads clean. Screw on a lid and band tightly.

Let sit out on a cloth at room temperature for one 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.

Enjoy mixed with kefir or yogurt (pictured, below). Put on top of breakfast porridge, toast, pancakes or waffles. Eat alongside baked or grilled poultry, beef, lamb, or pork.

Options: Vary the amount of fruit. One day I didn’t have so many oranges and apples, but lots of cranberries. And I made a cranberry-heavy relish. It was delicious! I had to use a bit more sweetener. :)

Free CHEAT SHEET: “Create Your Own Ferments” Fermenting Formulas

Want to create your own safe-to-eat and delicious fermented salsas, chutneys, pickles or krauts? Need to know how long to ferment, how much salt to add, and how to store?

This cheat sheet will give you formulas for all types of ferments (even fruit preserves, pickled meats, and condiments) – so you can “create your own” ferments with confidence.

Click here to get the free CHEAT SHEET today!

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


    • says

      Julie — Yes, you can use the whey from dairy kefir. Either yogurt or kefir will work. Line a colander with fine cheesecloth or cotton. Put it inside a pot to catch the whey that will drip out. Pour kefir or yogurt into the cheesecloth. Tie up the ends. Use the whey that drips into the pot for this and other ferments (or soaking grains or bread). The kefir will be thicker like a soft cheese, which is delicious in dressings, spread on toast (add some salt and herbs), or as a dip (herbed up). This will take 12 to 24 hours at room temperature, depending on the thickness of the weave. If the weave is coarse, the yogurt/kefir will slip right through, so make sure it is fine. If you’re able to hang the bag of kefir, it will go much faster. If you can do it in the fridge, the resulting whey and cheese will be less sour.

  1. says

    Oh gosh, this looks sooo good! I am going to get the ingredients and make this tonight! Hope it’s done in time for Christmas…yum.

    Congrats on the Internet radio spot. I am going to try to tune in. How great!

  2. says

    Looks yummy. I am trying to “wake up” my water kefir grains. I had it in the freezer for a few months. I’m on the second fermentation, not real sure that batch has live culture. My family likes it a little sweet. My house is a little cool? Yesterday I took the kefir grains out of the bag, put some crushed up egg shells and some molasses in with the organic sugar. I think those are some of the suggestions from the forum.
    Have you had good luck using grains after they have been in the freezer?

  3. says

    This looks great! I’m always looking for fermented recipes. My kids will eat salsa and ketchup, but turn their noses up at the veggies. They might do cranberry relish though. I know I will!

  4. Greta says

    This turned out so amazing! Honestly, this is one of the best lacto-ferments we’ve had yet…even my five year old like it. Really great! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

  5. Irene Mish says

    Is there something that you can use instead of the whey of kefir? I don’t have either on hand.

    Thanks, Irene

    • says

      Irene, I really don’t think so. I suppose you could *try* raw apple cider vinegar, but the organisms in ACV produce vinegar (acetic acid) rather than lactic acid (for lacto-fermentation). Still, it would be a ferment of sorts and probably taste good. You might need to go light on the amount of the ACV.

      Fruit ferments cannot be done without an innoculation of the organisms in whey, water kefir, or a powdered starter, because of the sugar content. The innoculation with a cultured start makes sure that negative organisms attracted to sugar do not flourish.

      • Bonnie says

        I have done fruit ferments without using any starter culture at all. Works just fine with a regular salt brine. For example . . .

        Fruit Kimchi

        1 qt mixed fruit of your choice, chopped into bite-size pieces (let grapes whole)
        2 t sea salt
        Juice of 1 lemon
        small amount of chopped cilantro
        1 – 2 hot banana peppers, finely chopped
        3 -4 cloves garlic, minced
        3 T freshly-grated ginger
        Optional: 1/2 c cashews or other nut of your choice

        Pack into a jar. Press down so the brine rises (add water if needed). Put an air-lock lid on the jar and let stand on the countertop. You can taste it every day until it reaches your desired level of fermentation. I like it best at 3 to 4 days. Then, store in the fridge. YUM!

  6. Christina says

    Tried this one again tonight, with blueberries instead. Yum with cottage cheese! Can’t wait for the rest to ferment….

    Thanks Wardee~

  7. Sara says

    This is a fantastic recipe. I didn’t have enough cranberries, I only had about a quarter cup, so I substituted raspberries for the remainder. It turned out FANTASTIC! Thank you so much for sharing this. It is the very best fermented recipe I have tried. I will be making this A LOT!

  8. says

    I’m going to try this! What I’d like to know, is it better with a certain type of apple? Are sweeter apples better than tart ones? Or vise versa? Thank you. :)

    • says

      Marg — Any type of apple works great. If you want a tarter chutney, choose a tart apple and vice versa. It does make very good use of tart apples! We prefer firmer apples, if anything, for a firmer/chunky chutney.

  9. Liz J says

    Hi Wardee ~ I am new to fermenting and would like to make your cranberry orange relish. Would it be okay to add some chopped walnuts to this or would it throw things off?

  10. Marci says

    I made this and it’s still on the kitchen counter … day 2 … should I be seeing any signs of bubbling? If not, I’ll go ahead and put it into the fridge. Can’t wait to try it!

  11. Mischele says

    I have never seen a recipe calling for water kefir before. Would it work in other fermented food recipes to use water kefir in place of whey? I have a diary allergy so can not use whey and am just wondering if the water kefir would work for things like mayo, ketchup, sauerkraut, etc. If it can be, would the same measurement work (1/4 cup whey = 1/4 cup water kefir)?


  12. Leona says

    I have a question… Is the sucanat necessary? I am eating strict GAPS and can’t do any sugar. Would it would ferment fine with honey? OR should I just leave out the sweetener all together and sweeten to taste with stevia AFTER fermenting. What do you think?

    • says

      Leona — You can leave out the Sucanat. I wouldn’t do honey because honey needs to be diluted more so as not to interfere with fermentation (it is anti-bacterial). You can definitely sweeten to taste afterward with stevia.

  13. Leona says

    Oooh, I just thought of another one. I have made kim chi in the the past and after the initial fermentation on the counter it is supposed to age in cold storage for 2+ weeks before it’s really good for eating. Is this the same or can you eat it right after the 1-3 days on the counter?
    Thanks again,

    • says

      Leona — You can eat it right away, though I like to do kimchi for 3 to 5 days. If you have any difficulty digesting it, it is a sign that it needs more time. It will continue to get better as it ages in cold storage.

    • says

      Jessie — You can use cooked foods for fermenting. Just keep in mind that you will ALWAYS need a starter culture because cooked foods don’t have naturally present beneficial bacteria anymore. You always need a starter culture for fruits, anyway, but I did want to mention this in case you consider doing it for a veggie ferment (like fermenting roasted beets, for instance).

  14. Katrina says

    I am so excited about this! We actually have made this recipe since I can remember. When we went on Gaps we switched to using honey. I am excited to add the fermentation to it now! I made it this morning and realized afterwards that the raw honey I used as a sweetener might kill the water keifer… thoughts?

  15. Nancy says

    This looks and sounds awesome. I just made the other cranberry relish, like as in it just finished fermenting today and tastes wonderful!
    Can’t wait to try this!

  16. Virginia says

    Wardee, this sounds amazing, with the addition of apple!
    I have fermented my orange cranberry relish before, and the taste is fantastic. Adding apple will give it another dimension!
    I have a suggestion. In the old days (????), my mom used to grind the whole orange with cranberries to make cooked cranberry orange ‘relish’. So with that in mind, I first zested the orange, and saved it, then sectioned the orange to remove the pith and membranes. Then added back in the zest. It gives a great orange flavor!
    Thank you for your yummy and healthy recipes, I look forward to your posts, you are gifted!

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