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Upgrade Your Holiday Table with this Fermented Cranberry Compote

Isn’t it time to give your Thanksgiving cranberry sauce an upgrade? Here’s a recipe that marries the sweet, delectable taste of honey with tart cranberries, tangy apple cider vinegar, and warming ginger.

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Not to get all philosophical, but this cranberry recipe really reminded me of two foundational principles of the work Chef Jeannette and I have done together over the past 15 years.  The first is to make real food with real ingredients—without being slavish to any dietary philosophy. And the second foundational principle is that all recipes are tradeoffs.

The healthiest vegetable juice, freshly made, at home, in a cold-press juicer—is still a tradeoff. Sure, you get delicious juice packed with vitamins and minerals and thirst-quenching water, but you also give up all the fiber from the veggies.

This recipe, too, is a tradeoff. It’s not sugar-free, but it is absolutely loaded with powerful nutrients, including gut-healing probiotics.

Honestly, can you point to a Thanksgiving recipe that has a richer amount of probiotics (from fermented apple cider vinegar), more anti-inflammatories (from the gingerols in fresh ginger), or more antioxidants (from the lemon, pepper, and cranberries)? Plus, this dish contains magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. That’s a serious nutritional profile. And it tastes sinfully delicious.

Related: The Awesome Power of Fermented Foods

Combine this absolutely incredible cranberry recipe with some nice healthy fat, and your blood sugar shouldn’t skyrocket—but your taste buds may explode! And if you’re grading on a curve, this sauce is literally at the other end of that curve from any conventional, packaged, grocery-store cranberry sauce you could possibly buy. Enjoy!

—Dr. Jonny

Notes from the Clean  Food Coach

The cranberries, lemon juice, and vinegar will increase the acidity of the mixture to help discourage the growth of any botulism spores. Sometimes raw honey contains these spores, which is why you should never feed it to a child under one year of age. Any risk of botulism to older children or healthy adults from honey is very rare.

It’s not necessary, but if you own a glass fermentation weight, use that in place of the lid to keep all the solid matter under the liquid line.

did you know …
Honey mixtures ferment most easily at temperatures in the upper 60s°F.

Fermented Cranberry Compote Recipe

The final compote mixture is very sweet, as the honey will dominate the flavors. It’s delicious on bagels with cream cheese, crackers with goat cheese, or stirred into plain yogurt for a unique holiday breakfast. For a special accompaniment to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, serve with cornbread or strain the cranberries of excess honey and serve in small amounts with roast turkey. This compote will last for weeks—possibly months—in the fridge. Just check for mold and discard if you see any growth.

Servings
16 ¼-cup servings

Ingredients

  • 3 generous cups fresh organic cranberries
  • ¼ cup freshly grated ginger root
  • Zest and juice from 1 large organic lemon
  • 2 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar
  • ½ organic jalapeño pepper with seeds, or to taste for heat, optional
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Raw honey to cover (about 2 cups)

Preparation

  1. Pulse cranberries a few times in food processor to partially break them up. Don’t over-process – you want large pieces and some whole berries.
  2. Transfer to sterile, 1-quart, wide-mouth mason jar. With clean or gloved hand, squeeze grated ginger over the cranberries to release juice into jar. Add lemon juice, zest, vinegar, and jalapeño, if using.
  3. Add honey to jar to cover contents, leaving about 1 inch of space at top. Add cinnamon, and gently stir with long sterile knife or spoon to distribute cinnamon, lemon juice, and honey throughout.
  4. Set jar on small plate (to catch any spills from the fermenting process), and cover loosely with lid. To prevent pressure build-up from fermentation, do not screw lid on.
  5. Allow jar to rest in warmish, dark place about 2 weeks. Periodically check fermentation, starting after 3–4 days. Contents will become runnier and a bit darker as time goes on, and cranberries will start to soften and lose their tartness. If there is enough ambient yeast in your environment, you will eventually see small bubbles form at top of mixture.
  6. Taste after two weeks. If you like the flavors, remove jalapeño, screw lid on properly, and store the jar in refrigerator. If you wish to sweeten cranberries further, allow to ferment for another week, or to taste.

Nutrition Information

  • Calories 140
  • Carbohydrate Content 38 g
  • Cholesterol Content 0 mg
  • Fat Content 0 g
  • Fiber Content 1 g
  • Protein Content 0 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 0 g
  • Sodium Content 0 mg
  • Sugar Content 35 g