Fermented Feijoa Pickle - sugar free

Its that time of year, in my neighbourhood, where everybody is trying to give away feijoas. Acca sellowiana fruit also known as pineapple guava or guavasteen have a short shelf life and are not sold in the markets for long or exported. They're one of those great seasonal treats where the first of the season are a delicacy and a week or so later one's looking for recipes to use them in bulk.

This is a lacto-fermented pickle (Lactic acid fermentation - Wikipedia) like kimchi or sauerkraut and has no added sugar other than that naturally present in the fruit. The pickle (or is it a chutney?) goes great with meat, sausages, or fish. I love it mixed with caramelised onions and served over venison sausages.

If you like, some whey drained from live yoghurt can be added to the pickle as a starter, but I've always found the ferment starts on its own from wild bacteria. The salt help select for the right type of bacteria. Once the ferment starts, its pretty good at out-competing any moulds or yeasts.

Fermented Feijoa Pickle

Makes 4 x 400 ml jars

1.5 litres chopped feijoa ~half with skins ~half scooped
2 T fermented chili and garlic sauce - or any chili paste to taste
2 T black peppercorns
1 T parsley seed
1 T black mustard seed
1 T yellow mustard seed
1 T klonji seed
10 kaffir lime leaves
1 T salt

The spices were an arbitrary combination of what I had available. Feel free to vary, substitute and impersonate, but stick to this amount of salt. I actually used fermented kawakawa berries instead of black peppercorns. The kawakawa berry season finishes long before the feijoa season starts, so I'm probably the only one with both in my garden, and a tendency to experiment with strange ferments. (Don't worry this feijoa pickle is a very successful experiment)

Find enough glass jars with reasonably wide mouths and another set of small glass jars or tumblers that fit nicely inside the mouth of the larger jars. Clean both jars inside and out. See the preserved lemons post for a diagram of the airlock setup.

Go through the fruit, cutting any with unblemished skins up whole. Any with less than perfect skins, cut in half and scoop out the insides. Mix in a bowl with everything else. The salt should start to bring out the juice in the fruit.

Pack the mixture into the jars. When each jar is almost full, push the small jar into the large jar so that the small jar hold the fruit pieces under the juice. The juice should come part way up the outside of the small jar. If necessary, add some weight to the small jar to keep it in place. All this minimizes the surface area exposed to the air and the potential for mould. Put the large jars into a bowl to contain any overflow and cover everything with a plastic bag to keep it all clean.

Leave to ferment in a warm place (20 °C to 30 °C) for two or maybe three weeks, the mixture should bubble after the first few days. Any overflow juice can be used in cooking.

After 2 weeks the fruit should have changed texture and be a lot softer. Put a lid on the large jar and store in the fridge. The pickle should keep for several months at least. Stir occasionally to keep the top layer under the salty juice.

Similar recipes: (links added as I write them)