Tag Archives: fermentation

Sauerkraut Stew: A Savory, Sour, Spicy, Sweet Flavor Combination You Need to Try

The first time I made this recipe, it was incredible. The second time I made this recipe, I decided that it was so good, there was no way it couldn’t be shared. While sauerkraut stew isn’t something you hear about often (if ever), it really is the perfect combination of savory, sour, spicy, and sweet.

Sauerkraut Stew | The Fresh Day

This past Christmas, I was lucky to receive a gorgeous fermentation crock so I could make large batches of sauerkraut and kimchi at home. Very large batches. The abundance of sauerkraut left me looking for some new uses for it, so when I saw this soup recipe I had to give it a shot. Using the ingredients I had on hand, I tweaked it and was very happy with the result. There’s a lot that goes into this recipe – sausage, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, and more – but sauerkraut is the namesake for a reason. The delicious tang that sauerkraut offers is what makes this stew such a game changer.

Even though there are a lot of ingredients, this recipe is really easy to make. Different than other soups and stews, you add almost all the ingredients at once and then just simmer. It’s a simple, flavorful, and satisfying one-pot meal.

Sauerkraut Stew | The Fresh Day

Sauerkraut Stew

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
• 1 large onion, diced
• 8 garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped
• 3-4 white or yellow potatoes, diced
• 6 dried apricots, diced
• 3 cups sauerkraut, in brine
• 1 lb of fresh hot sausage, sliced 1/4 inch thick
• 6 cups chicken stock
• 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
• 2 pickled jalapenos (or 1 fresh jalapeno)
• 2 dried chiles, crushed (I used chiles de arbol)
• 2 tsp cayenne
• 1 tbsp paprika
• 1 tbsp caraway seeds
• 2 bay leaves
• sea salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, combine the onion, garlic, mushrooms, potatoes, apricots, sauerkraut, sausage, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then turn the heat down to medium-low and let cook for 30 minutes.
2. After the 30 minutes, add the tomatoes, peppers, and spices. Let cook for another 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and completely cooked.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Sauerkraut Stew | The Fresh Day
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Kombucha: An Introduction

I couldn’t go too long without writing about kombucha. It’s one of my favorite things to make, drink, and share. Effervescent, sweet, and tangy, Kombucha is fermented tea. It has been around for hundreds of years (at least), and fallen in and out of fashion here in the US.

Kombucha is claimed to help with digestion, detoxification, treat arthritis, and boost your immune system. While the jury is still out on some of these benefits, kombucha is at the least a tasty, highly probiotic drink, known to be filled with gut-healing bacteria. Personally, I find it to be a great pick-me-up, sometimes replacing coffee. My boyfriend has said it cures his headaches. But above all else, I drink kombucha because it is delicious.

bottlesFresh bottled booch

I don’t remember the first time I tried kombucha, but after that first sip, I never went back. It’s both tart and sweet, with a deep fruit-like flavor. The scent is reminiscent of apple cider vinegar, which can be a deterrent for some. The first kombucha I had was GT’s, which is widely available and often blended with fruit juice. It’s a great starter kombucha. Unfortunately, the stuff is expensive, so once I was hooked it didn’t take long to think about making my own. Turns out, it’s remarkably easy, and there is no shortage of online resources to support you along the way.

Before brewing kombucha, you need to learn about the SCOBY. A SCOBY is a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s rubbery, slimy, and generally unattractive, but this culture is responsible for making all the good stuff happen. In just a few days, the SCOBY will turn sugary tea into fizzy, beloved booch.There’s a few ways to get your hands on one. If you happen to know a fellow kombucha brewer, they are likely to have an extra on hand. Every time you make a batch, the SCOBY produces a second baby SCOBY that can be used separately. If you can’t get one from a friend, it’s just as easy to get a good one at a local home brewing store or online. Cultures for Health is a trusted online shop, but you’ll find tons more on Amazon. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can make your own, though I don’t have any experience doing so myself.

scoby-closeMy odd-looking current SCOBY, a smaller mature one with a larger young one attached

Want to get started? Below is my tried and true recipe for basic kombucha.

Basic Kombucha

Makes 1 Gallon

Ingredients
• 14 cups of water
• 8 teabags or 4 tbsp of organic green or black tea (no flavored teas)
• 1 cup of organic sugar
• 1 SCOBY
• 1-2 cups of starter tea (reserved from another batch of kombucha or wherever you got your SCOBY from)

Equipment
• a large glass container with an open top (at least 1 gallon)
• a wooden or other non-metallic spoon (contact with metal will damage the SCOBY)
• a non-metallic strainer
• cheesecloth or a paper towel, and a rubber band

1. Bring 6 cups of the water to a boil, then remove from heat. Add the tea and let steep for 4 minutes. Then remove the tea and add the cup of sugar, stirring until it is fully dissolved. Add the remaining 8 cups of water to help bring the tea to room temperature.

2. Once the tea is at room temperature, pour it into your glass container (it is important not to be warmer to prevent damaging your SCOBY). Then add both your SCOBY and starter tea to the container.

3. Cover the top of the container with the cheesecloth or paper towel and secure with a rubber band. Your tea is now ready to ferment! Find a place for it that will remain at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. The fermentation process can take anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks. The longer it ferments, the less sweet and more sour the kombucha becomes. I’ve found that 7-9 days is my sweet spot, but feel free to taste your kombucha along the way to figure out when it’s just right for you!

doublebrewstrain2
Brewing and straining

4. Once you like how your kombucha tastes, you are ready to move from fermentation to bottling. Remove the SCOBY with your non-metallic spoon along with 1-2 cups of the kombucha. You can start another batch of kombucha with this right away or store in a closed jar in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

5. Pour the kombucha from your container into smaller, air-tight containers using your non-metallic strainer to filter out any of the slimy yeast that formed in the process. It’s safe to drink, but not necessarily enjoyable. Make sure to leave at least an inch of room at the top of the jar for air, to prevent your bottles of carbonated booch from exploding.

At this point, the kombucha is technically finished. However, I ALWAYS do a second fermentation to make my booch more bubbly.

6. For second fermentation, seal the containers and leave out at room temperature for another 24-48 hours, then move to the fridge. Do not leave out of the fridge for more than a few days, because again, all that carbonation could cause the containers to burst.

Second fermentation is also your chance to add fruit juice to make flavored kombucha. I’ll have recipes coming soon, but in the meantime I suggest exploring Phickle, my favorite blog. There are some fantastic recipes, including this seasonal Cherry Kombucha.

cherrybooch
Phickle’s cherry kombucha

I hope you enjoy the kombucha adventure as much as I do. If you run into any questions, leave a note for me in the comments, I would love to chat and help out.