Introduction to Culturing Fruit


Most people who have dabbled in fermentation have at least practiced culturing vegetables and probably dairy as well. But when it comes to culturing fruit things start to get a little more complicated.

Fruit contains a lot more sugar than vegetables. These sugars are exactly what the microorganisms feast on to produce bacteria, acids, and yeasts in a cultured food product.

Because the sugars are so prevalent in fruit you have to closely monitor and control the fermentation process. Instead of simply salting some cabbage and allowing it to do its thing, you have to be more involved in order to produce a lacto-fermented fruit culture.

Types of Fruit Ferments

There are basically three kinds of fruit ferments:

Lactic Acid Ferment. This is the type of ferment that produces the first stage of the fruit fermentation process.

Alcohol Ferment. There are many types of fruit alcohol ferments. Wine is the most well-known. This stage of fermentation is fairly easy to achieve due to all the sugars in the fruit.

Vinegar Ferment. This is the final stage of fermentation after alcohol. At this stage acetic acid is formed and we get things like apple cider vinegar.

Achieving Lactic Acid Fermentation

Lactic acid fermentation is of interest to many who are familiar with lacto-fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and all of their health benefits.

Lacto-fermented fruit jams and chutneys can be achieved in much the same way as the lacto-fermented vegetables we are used to. You simply need to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Fruits ferment faster and will go bad or turn to alcohol quickly so they are not suited for long-term storage. Make fruit ferments in small batches and expect them to last no longer than a few weeks in the refrigerator.
  2. Fruit ferments need some assistance to go the direction of lactic acid fermentation rather than alcohol fermentation. For this reason we recommend you cut back a bit on salt (who wants a salty fruit ferment anyway?) and use either water kefir, whey or kombucha as a starter culture.
  3. Combining fruits with vegetables is helpful in lowering the overall sugar content and slowing down the fermentation process. Fruit chutneys in which vegetables are added is a great starting point.

So, don’t be too intimidated by the challenge of fermenting fruit. Give it a shot, have fun with it, and keep in mind a few of the considerations above when delving into fruit fermentation.


Ready to Get Started with some Fruit Chutney Recipes?


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