While I love cultured foods, and sometimes joke that I’ll ferment anything not nailed down, I am not one to just ferment something for the sake of fermenting. Besides adding health benefits, fermentation is a means of food preservation, and a sustainable one at that. But there are other means of food preservation that often make more sense, depending on the food.
A while back someone asked about culturing dried fruit. My first thought is that dried fruit is already preserved for quite some time due to the dehydration process. And, why go to the trouble of re-hydrating fruit and then culturing it when the shelf-life is shortened? Most fruit-based ferments I’ve dabbled in such as chutneys or relishes have a fairly short shelf life, and so I actually prefer dehydration over fermentation for preserving most fruit.
That said, I actually utilize dried fruit in my ferments quite frequently. So, I thought I’d share some ideas for incorporating dried fruit into the cultured kitchen.
To Flavor Fermented Beverages
This is how I most frequently use dried fruit in my ferments. It’s a quick and easy way to add flavor and fruit sugar to a second fermentation of water kefir or kombucha. I grab a handful of dried blueberries or apricots and add them straight to the bottle, dicing them up quickly to fit if need be.
I love this concept because it gets us away from buying store-bought juices and gives me hope that if our fruit trees and berry bushes produce one day, we’ll have plenty of flavoring options.
As a Topping Cultured Dairy
For a really quick breakfast or snack you can’t beat a bowl of homemade yogurt or kefir. Top with hearty toppings, such as dried fruit and nuts, for a filling and substantial meal.
Blended into Probiotic-Rich Smoothie
Most of us don’t think of dried fruit when we think of smoothies. The beauty of using dried fruit with probiotic bases such as kefir, yogurt, or cultured coconut, is that it adds just the right amount of sweetness.
You could take it a step further and soak your dried fruit overnight in the cultured dairy or coconut base you will be using. This gives the fruit time to rehydrate before blending.
Chutneys and Fermented Fruit Butter
Chutneys are a great way to incorporate dried fruits. They add a boost of sweetness to vegetables or other fresh fruits. Combine them with peaches in this Lacto-fermented Peach-Raisin Chutney. Or, try this Lacto-fermented Crazy Raisin Chutney.
You can also make fruit butter from dried fruit. In this recipe the ubiquitous apple butter is made from dehydrated apples you might have stored up from a previous harvest. Simply rehydrate the apples in water, blend, and culture.