Makes 1 quart (liter)
The sweet flesh of winter squash is elevated to a whole new level when fermented with special ingredients and spices. Enjoy this flavor-popping chutney as an appetizer with some soft cheese and crispy crackers.
Or, better yet, make yourself a British Ploughman’s Lunch, a portable meal packed for a ploughman (or plowman) to take into the fields: crusty bread and cheese plus pickled onions and a relish or chutney.
Fermentation Length: 7 to 14 days
Salt Percentage: 2.5% (see Recipe Notes)
As the days shorten and the nights become frosty, the markets abound with winter squash in all shapes, sizes, and colors. This recipe uses butternut squash, but any firm-fleshed winter squash can be used.
When purchasing butternut squash, look for squashes that are heavy for their size and have a hard, dull rind without cracks or soft spots.
Since the flesh of winter squash softens during storage, it is best to make this recipe earlier in the season than later to capture the squash when it is firm and will hold its texture through the fermentation period.
Butternut squash chutney is a great way to take advantage of fall vegetables. Learning to preserve produce by fermenting seasonally allows you to:
- Capture the best of the season in a jar. Produce fermented from each season can be enjoyed throughout the year tossed onto salads, topped onto cheese and crackers, and layered into sandwiches bringing back memories of each season.
- Create a stockpile of affordable food gifts. You’ll find the best prices when buying produce in season which can then be used to make flavorful ferments to give as gifts. Repack quart (liter) sized ferments into smaller 4 ounce (125 ml) or 8 ounce (250 ml) jars and add a ribbon and gift tag.
- Be prepared for a party, or unexpected guests, at a moment’s notice. A flavorful set of appetizers can be thrown together at a moment’s notice when you have a handful of various seasonal ferments stashed in your fridge.
- 1-2 pounds (800 g) of butternut squash, halved, seeded and peeled
- 1 tart apple, peeled and finely diced
- 1/4 to 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1 2-inch (5 cm) piece of fresh ginger root, finely grated
- 1 lemon, zest and juice of
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) dried cranberries
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) ground nutmeg
- 4 teaspoons (20 g) iodine-free salt
- Kitchen scale, ideally digital
- 1-quart (1 L) wide-mouth canning jar or similar sized jar
- 4-ounce (125 ml) canning jar (jelly jar) or other fermentation weight
- Wide-mouth plastic storage cap or canning jar rim and lid
- Cutting board and chef’s knife
- Large mixing bowl
- Vegetable peeler, measuring spoons, and grater
- Place your bowl on the scale. Either zero out your scale or write down the tare (weight) of your bowl.
- Prep your apple, red onion, parsley, ginger, and lemon(zest and juice) and add them to your bowl along with the dried cranberries, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Shred the butternut squash with a grater or food processor. Add grated butternut squash to your bowl until the weight of all your ingredients is 1 – 3/4 pounds (28 oz or 800g).
- Sprinkle with 4 teaspoons (20 g) of salt. Mix thoroughly until salt is well dispersed.
- Pack into a 1-quart (liter) jar leaving 1-2 inches of headspace. Clean up any loose bits from around the rim and press the mixture down into your jar to remove any air pockets.
- Seal the jar using a fermentation weight and airlock lid of your choosing. If you don’t have a specialty weight, find a slightly smaller jar that will fit inside the neck of the jar you packed your ferment into. Fill it with water, cap it, and place it inside the jar. It will keep your ferment below the brine and safe from airborne molds and yeasts.
- Label your jar with the recipe name and the day you started fermenting. Place your jar in a small bowl to catch any brine that may overflow. Ferment away from direct sunlight for 7-14 days.
- Monitor daily, pressing down any bits that rise to the surface. Start tasting on day 7, looking for just a tad of crunch in the squash and a complex tart and tangy flavor.
- When fermented to your liking, clean up the jar, removing the fermentation weight and airlock lid. Add how long you fermented your Flavor-Popping Butternut Squash Chutney to your label. Seal your jar with a regular lid and transfer to the fridge where your ferment will keep for 6-12 months.
- You may substitute other sweet and meaty, firm winter squash for butternut squash.
- Winter squash is high in sugar so a shorter fermentation length and a higher percentage of salt (2.5%) is used to prevent the ferment from developing a slight alcoholic flavor.
- Himalayan pink salt or Redmond Real Salt© are my favorite salts to use for fermentation.