This Herbalist's Fermented Cranberry Salsa Is Gut-Healing & Tasty

Herbalist & author By Devon Young
Herbalist & author
Devon Young is an author and founder of the holistic lifestyle blog, Nitty Gritty Life. She has a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from The American College of Healthcare Sciences and is developing her own herbalism health practice.

Image by Devon Young / Contributor

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Cranberries are a classic example of how food serves as medicine. We've all heard cranberry juice suggested for bladder complaints, such as urinary tract infections. But, my friends, store-bought cranberry juice often just isn't the best answer because of the added sugar. If you are up for drinking a few shots of tart cranberry juice to relieve urinary tract discomfort, more power to you. But this spicy, tangy, fruity salsa is a perfect treat. It also brings even more medicinal benefits, including ginger, which is traditionally used by herbalists for pelvic complaints. The yogurt whey is optional; some fermentation purists argue that it is unnecessary, but I personally like the results.

Serve this salsa with corn chips or over grilled chicken, pork or even labneh—a cheese made from strained yogurt—or with cream cheese.

Fermented Cranberry Salsa

Makes 1 generous pint (about 500 g)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 (12-oz. [340-g]) package fresh cranberries 
  • 1 to 3 jalapeños, minced 
  • 2 tbsp. (12 g) finely grated fresh ginger 
  • 2 tbsp. (28 ml) fresh lime juice  
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) whey drained from organic yogurt (optional—see my herbalist tips below) 
  • ½ cup (170 g) raw honey 
  • 100% cranberry juice or distilled water, as needed to cover 
  • ¼ cup (12 g) sliced scallions 
  • ¼ cup (4 g) fresh cilantro leaves, minced 
  • Sea salt, to taste 

Method:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the cranberries until they are well minced. Transfer the cranberries to a medium-size bowl.
  2. Add the jalapeños, ginger, lime juice and zest, whey, if using, and honey. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Pack the mixture firmly into a quart-size (940-ml) glass jar. After a few hours, the juice should cover the mixture; if there is not enough juice, add cranberry juice to cover. Cover the jar with several layers of cheesecloth secured with a rubber band or with an airlock lid. 
  4. Ferment the salsa at room temperature for 7 to 10 days, tasting after about 5 days for preference. When you are satisfied with the fermentation, mix in the scallions, cilantro, and sea salt to taste.
  5. Serve immediately or store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 
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Herbalist Tips:

  • I like to add the scallions and cilantro just before serving to add freshness to the fermented salsa. 
  • To gather the whey used in this recipe, drain plain, unflavored yogurt in a fine-mesh sieve lined with muslin or cheesecloth, over a bowl. The whey collected in the bowl is an excellent source of lactic acid bacteria, which promote fermentation. The thickened yogurt can be used as Greek yogurt or drained further for a cream-cheese-like consistency. This process can take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, depending on the desired consistency. 

Recipe excerpted from The Herbalist's Healing Kitchen by Devon Young. Reprinted with permission from Page Street Publishing Co., 2019.

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