lacto-fermented fennel

Fermented Fennel Cranberry Chutney :: Recipe from Farm to Fermentation Festival

Fermented Fennel Cranberry Chutney

The Farm to Fermentation Festival in Santa Rosa, CA is near and dear to my heart as it is the first fermentation festival I had a chance to go to. In 2011 it was called the Freestone Fermentation Festival, which I wrote about extensively on this blog—the symposium, the feast, and the fest. The event has changed but is at its core still a wonderful way for people to explore the wonderful world of fermented foods and libations. 

It was delightful connecting with old and new friends in the fermentation community, including Kate Payne and Nora Chovanec who will be hosting me at the Austin Fermentation Festival in October. As many of you know I am working on a new book. I met Lisa whose story will be included in the book as she makes a mean fermented Sriracha sauce. It was also delightful to meet Nicole of FARMcurious and Karen who designed the Kraut Source fermenting lid.

The best part—always—is meeting and teaching you, the people, how to ferment vegetables.  I taught a class where we made fermented Fennel Cranberry Chutney. This recipe is in Fermented Vegetables but I made a pint size version for the class that I want to share here. 

This ferment is mild, sweet, and delicious and a friendly flavor for those who are less sure about fermented vegetables in their diet. This is particularly good with poultry—as an addition to a chicken salad or along side grilled chicken.

Fermented Fennel Chutney
Makes 1 pint

This version uses optional pure cranberry juice. The juice adds a little more flavor complexity, pink color and brine. The recipe works either way.

1 bulb fennel, sliced finely, tough parts of core removed
1 small to medium sweet onion, slice finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons raisins
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pure cranberry juice (the kind with nothing added)

Remove the fennel stalks (save for adding to soup stock) and any tough parts of the core. Slice the fennel and onions as thinly as possible; mince the garlic and place in bowl. Sprinkle in the salt and massage it in to release the juices. Add the cranberries and raisins. At this point you should have a moist mixture. Press into your favorite fermentation vessel. Follow the instructions that come with that method. Otherwise choose a jar that is just the right size.

Press the vegetables into the jar; there will be only a small amount of brine. Don’t worry if it “disappears” between pressings. As long as the relish is damp, you have enough. At this point you can add the optional cranberry juice—it will give you more brine and a nice pink color.
When you have pressed the chutney into the jar releasing air pockets, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface, again without trapping any air. Screw a lid tightly on the jar.

Put this in a corner of the kitchen to cure. Watch for air pockets forming in the paste. If you see them, open the lid and press the paste back down. If the lid starts to bubble up, simply open the lid for a moment to “burp” the ferment. 

Allow to ferment for 7 days. You will know it is ready when the color of the ferment has become dull and there is a slight pickle-y flavor.

During storage, the less airspace above a ferment the longer it will last, so fill the jars to the rim and transfer the ferment to smaller jars as you use it. Keep a small round of plastic wrap or wax paper directly on top of the paste to prevent evaporation and contamination. Tighten the lids and store in fridge. This ferment will keep refrigerated for 6 months.

Spring Tonic—Radish Fennel Ferment

Radish Fennel Ferment


     I wanted to come up with a recipe that welcomed Spring.  I desired a flavor that was cool and crisp just like the season. I fancied a ferment that was light—both in taste and in color. I imagined a pastel-colored ferment to compliment the light pink and white blossoms of early spring.


     I wanted to use radishes for two reasons. The first is that red radishes are quick growing in cool temperatures. They are one earliest available local vegetables in a temperate climate. The second is that radishes are a food we should be eating to help our bodies come out of winter. In Traditional Chinese Medicine radishes are a wonderful tonic for the liver and gall bladder. Radishes break up fat and phlegm, and regulate bile flow—in a sense consuming radishes get your juices going.


     I decided to keep this ferment unpretentious. I chose fresh fennel to combine with the radish. I thought the light aromatic flavor would compliment the more watery, spicy radish. Nutritionally, I also knew that fennel is great for digestion. Fennel is also rich in vitamin K2 which works in the circulation system by breaking up "debris" in blood vessels. Vitamin K2 is also important in your diet if you are taking oral vitamin D. Here is a link for more information on fennel and fermentation.


      This ferment is very simple. You can start it today and in 3 or 4 days you can enjoy it. It is tasty sprinkled on a green salad or alongside protein rich foods such as hard-boiled eggs.




Makes 1 pint

1 bunch small radishes, such as Cherry Belle or French Breakfast

1 medium fresh fennel bulb

1 ½ teaspoons salt


     Remove the stems and wash the radishes. Slice very thin, using the slicing blade on a hand grater or food processor. Place in a bowl. Cut the thick root end off the fennel bulb and also slice it as thinly as possible. Put this in the bowl with the radishes.  Chop any fennel frond and put it into the bowl as well. Save the thick fennel stocks for something else. Add the salt slowly. Massage it in and taste after about half the salt has been added. Keep adding the salt until you just taste it. You should be able to taste the salt, but the salt should not dominate the flavor.


     It will produce enough brine without much time or effort.  Press the mixture in a quart jar. Weight it down, making sure all the vegetables are under the brine. Allow to ripen for 3 – 4 days in a cool out of the way spot on your counter.