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Friday, February 13, 2009

But What Do I Do with It? Using Up All That Kraut and Beyond

Before deciding to buy, preserve, and store any new food, it is essential to have some ideas about how you'll use it someday. This month, I'll share a few ways I've been using my fermented foods at home to improve everyday meals.

Lacto-fermented foods are good in small quantities on their own, but where they really stand out is as condiments or accompaniments to other foods. The tang and crunch of many lacto-fermented veggies make them a perfect compliment for savory foods, especially anything that's heavy or bland, like sausages or beans. Lacto-fermented condiments like mayonnaise and ketchup are so superior to what you can buy in the store that once you've tried them (and seen how easy they are to make at home), you'll never go back.

You have heard it from me before. I love sauerkraut. I eat it plain, sometimes for a mid-morning snack. I add it to all sorts of soups--lentil soup, pork and bean soup, split pea soup. I always add the kraut just before serving, so that it stays crunchy. I also make borscht with lacto-fermented beets, cabbage, and turnips and a dollop of yogurt (which is another lacto-fermented food) that's the best I have ever had.

Lacto-Fermented Borscht
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1-1/2 quarts beef stock
3 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite-size cubes
2 cups lacto-fermented beets
2 cups lacto-fermented sauerkraut
1/2 cup lacto-fermented turnips
salt and pepper
fresh dill, finely chopped

Heat olive oil in stock pot over medium heat. Once hot, saute onion and caraway seeds until onions are soft. Add beef stock and potatoes, and turn heat to high until broth begins to boil. Gently boil on medium-high heat for 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked. Turn heat to low, add beets, sauerkraut, and turnips. Cook for a couple minutes, until just warmed through. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired. Serve with dill and yogurt.

My husband loves tartar sauce, though I have always found commercial versions of it insipid--not unlike most commercial ketchups. While I was making some pan-fried halibut a few weeks ago, I got inspired to make my own.

Tartar Sauce with Lacto-fermented Mayonnaise and Pickles
Doesn't make enough, apparently. This was devoured seconds after dinner started.

½ cup lacto-fermented mayonnaise
2 tablespoons diced lacto-fermented pickles
1 tablespoon salt-packed capers
1 tablespoon raw cider vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse-grained mustard

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Sweet & Sour Pork with Lacto-Fermented Ketchup
Serves 4-6

Coconut oil, for frying
1 pound pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots sliced 1/4-inch thick, on a bias
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon Chinese mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
2/3 cup tamari
1 cup lacto-fermented ketchup
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup raw cider vinegar
1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds or peanuts
1 tablespoon sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat about 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute pork loin cubes until cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove pork from skillet, add another tablespoon or so oil, then saute onion over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, then add carrots and celery and continue cooking another 3 minutes, covered. Scrap any browned bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add garlic, ginger, mustard powder and red pepper flakes, cook for 1 minute. Return pork to pan. Mix tamari, ketchup, and vinegar in a separate bowl and add to pan, along with pineapple and nuts. Cook for just a couple minutes, remove from heat and add sesame oil. Taste for seasoning and add salt or pepper if needed.


  1. Yum! That borscht looks fantastic! Do you cook your beets before fermenting, or do you just slice raw beets and cover them with a salt brine?
    I learned to love to make kraut before I learned to love to eat it. I learned to eat it by simply putting it on the dinner table every night. I put a little bit on whatever I'm eating. Last night I had a quesadilla with sour cream and pink sauerkraut. Maybe not a traditional pairing, but it was perfect.

  2. Alyss, sorry I didn't see your comment until just now. I do use raw beets for ferments.

    Eating just a little bit of LF foods is best, anyway. These are meant to be used as condiments, mostly. Your quesadilla idea sounds yummy! I may do that for lunch.