A berry interesting experiment

Fermented blueberries? We’ll just see about that….

John I. Carney
4 min readMar 26

A jar of blueberries with a fermentation lid. The blueberries have been tossed with pink Himalayan salt, and there are glass pickling weights sitting on top of them.

I had posted a week or two ago about The Noma Guide to Fermentation, a book by the culinary minds at Noma, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Copenhagen. I noted that a lot of the koji-fermented projects in the book were beyond my current skill set, but I did not really talk about some of the lactofermented projects, which tie right in with what I’ve been doing since the first of the year.

Book cover of “The Noma Guide To Fermentation,” featuring a line drawing of a hand surrounded by tendrils.

The project from the book that I found most intriguing was fermented blueberries. The Noma chefs have several different suggestions for how to use these — as soon as they’re done, you strain the berries out of the liquid, and each of the two products, the tart berries and the tart brine, can be used for different culinary projects as suggested by the book.

Yesterday, I found myself in Murfreesboro, where I’d met a friend so that we could carpool to a church-related meeting two hours away. I like to stop by Costco whenever I’m nearby, and I decided to snag some organic blueberries while I was there. I got home last night and wanted to get the ferment set up right away.

For most of the lactofermentation recipes in the book, Noma starts out with instructions for the vacuum bag method — which I have not yet tried, but will get around to one of these days. In this method, you use a vacuum sealer to contain the ferment in a plastic bag, allowing plenty of headroom to account for the carbon dioxide that will build up (and so that you will have some excess bag material in case you need to cut the bag open to check on it and then reseal it, which consumes a couple inches of the bag). But the book also includes instructions for fermenting in a jar.

I followed the instructions pretty carefully, and the only ingredients were blueberries and salt. I used pink Himalayan salt, which I’ve used for several of my recent ferments because the minerals are supposed to be friendly to some of the lactofermentation bacteria. If using a jar, you are supposed to put some sort of weight on top. Noma used a zip-top bag of water; I used my glass fermentation…

John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at http://www.lakeneuron.com/dislike