Chef Dan Barber from Blue Hill posted a photo of fermented cherries encased in beeswax on his Instagram back in 2016. Always curious about trying new simple fermentation processes, I gave this one a try with organic Rainer Cherries from Yakima Valley Washington. These are my favorite cherries, and it’s becoming easier to find them outside of the Pacific Northwest.
You can use any type of cherry, or stone fruit with a stem for this recipe. The beeswax I used had a huge impact on the flavor, which is something I was not expecting. Beeswax can be found at your farmers market or health foods store. If you are in Toronto, you can find local beeswax at Evergreen Brickwork’s shop.
You will start noticing the fermentation after a week, but the true flavor takes 2-3 weeks to fully develop.
Fermented Cherries in Beeswax
Nutrition per portion
1 lb Fresh Cherries (I used Organic Rainer)
1 cup Fresh Yogurt Whey
1 cup Beeswax
2 cups Ice Water
Gently wash the cherries and dry. Remove any that are bruised, missing their stem, or have any cuts or scratches in their skins.
Dip each cherry into the yogurt whey. If you do not have any yogurt whey, you could also use sauerkraut juice or a culture starter. Let the cherries dry on a wire rack overnight.
Using your smallest saucepan, gently warm the beeswax over the stove on medium-low heat. Stir to break up the wax, keeping an eye on the heat. You want to just heat the wax so it melts, do not let it simmer or boil. If the wax gets too hot, it will kill off the cultured bacteria on the cherry skins.
While the wax is melting, prepare an ice bath in a medium-sized bowl. Add ice and cold water.
When the wax is completely melted remove it from the stove and place it on your counter next to the ice bath (use a pot holder to protect your counter!). Take a cherry, holding it by the stem, and dip it quickly into the wax, and then into the ice bath. Hold it in the ice bath for a few seconds to cool the wax. Remove, dry with a cloth if necessary, and repeat. Continue dipping for 10-20 times, depending on how well your wax coats the cherry. You want a fairly thick coating on these!
Once all cherries have been dipped, place them on a rimmed sheet pan lined with a kitchen towel. Leave in a well ventilated space out of direct sunlight. Ideally, you want a space that will have a consistent room temperature on the cooler side. Check often, and immediately toss any cherries that develop cracks in the wax, as this will attract pests and mold.
Begin taste testing after one week or less if it is fermenting in a warm environment. Use a pairing knife to half the cherry, or your thumbnail to slip the wax coating off. You can wash, and save the wax for another project. The cherry should still look relatively fresh. Enjoy with yogurt, ice cream or with a cheese plate! Flavors will continue to develop the longer you allow it to ferment. I left mine for 4 weeks and found they became overly alcoholic in taste, 3 weeks was very pleasant.
[caption id="attachment_410" align="alignnone" width="300"] These cherries were left to ferment in my apartment for 4 weeks in the summer. They still look fresh when the wax is peeled back![/caption]