A Guide to Thai Soups

An introduction to the three main types of Thai soups so you can start cooking at home.

Overhead view of three thai soups with dipping sauce and a bowl of rice
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Thai soups are some of the most well-known dishes of Thai cuisine. If you’ve had any exposure to Thai food, you’ll likely recognize tom yum (also spelled tom yam) or even tom kha. And, if you want to learn how to cook Thai food, soups are some of the easiest recipes to start with. 

As I wrote in my guide to putting together a balanced Thai meal, soup is usually served alongside other dishes centered around a rice-based meal. This lies in stark contrast with Western meals, where it’s common to eat soup by itself or as a first-course. In a multi-dish Thai meal, soups serve an important role of making sure the overall meal isn’t too dry, especially if other dishes you’re serving don't have much sauce, such as fried fish or some stir-fries

Typically, each diner will have a small side bowl, while the big communal bowl of soup sits at the center of the table. At home, most people help themselves by filling their own side bowls, but at restaurants, the server might do this for you. 

Overhead view of someone serving themselves a bowl of soup
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Once you have some soup, there are a few ways to go about eating it, depending on the nature of the soup and your preference. For a lighter soup that can be eaten with or without rice, like a tom yum or a tom kha, you can eat the soup on its own as you enjoy the meal to wash down other drier dishes, or add some rice directly to your bowl and eat it like a rice soup. You can also spoon some of it over a bed of rice, allowing the broth to serve as a sauce for the rice to soak up. For richer, stew-like soups that are exclusively meant to be eaten with rice, such as moo palo, you spoon the soup over the rice on the plate to ensure there’s rice with every bite.

The Three Main Types of Thai Soups

To make it easier for the unfamiliar to grasp the massive variety of Thai soups, I’ve broken them into three basic categories. Even though the entirety of Thai soups doesn’t fit into three neat categories, these ones cover a good chunk of them. Take note that there are a few outlier soups worth mentioning such as tom gati, a rich coconut milk soup that gets its flavor from shrimp paste, shallots, and tamarind, and tom som, a sweet-tart soup usually made with fish and always garnished with ginger (not a common herb in Thai soups).

A quick additional note about noodle soups, which I won’t cover in detail because they are a separate category altogether: Noodle soups are of Chinese origin, and they are not served in the same way other Thai soups are. They are what we consider ahaan jaan diew, or a “one-dish-meal,” which means it is a complete meal in itself; it’s not shared and not served as part of a family-style meal. I refer to these as the “sandwiches” of Thai cuisine.

Herb-Infused Soups

This is probably the first category of Thai soup most people will encounter, because it’s what is most widely available in Thai restaurants overseas. They are also the most uniquely Thai in terms of flavor profile: light, brothy soups that are infused with Thai herbs, most commonly lemongrass, galangal, makrut lime leaves, Thai chiles, and turmeric. 

The broth can be clear, using water or stock as a base, such as the famous tom yum goong soup made with shrimp, or this fish version, tom yum pla, made with red snapper, fish stock, lemongrass, and tomatoes and flavored with fish sauce and lime juice. The soup can also be enriched with coconut milk, which is the case with tom kha gai, a chicken soup with galangal, though the overall texture is still quite light and brothy.

Someone getting a serving of Tom Yum Pla soup
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Anything is game in terms of protein, but each soup does have a “classic” pairing. For example, the most common protein for tom kha is chicken, and for tom yum, it’s shrimp. Vegetables usually play a secondary role in these soups with straw mushrooms and tomatoes making frequent appearances even though you can add whatever you wish (and sometimes no vegetables are added at all). The soups are usually finished with cilantro or sawtooth coriander, though again, there are no hard and fast rules. The seasonings are usually fish sauce, sugar, lime, and/or tamarind. These soups are almost always spicy, and sourness is always present whether as the leading or secondary flavor. In different regions of Thailand, fermented salty seasonings are sometimes added, in addition to fish sauce, to boost the umami and funk.

It’s important to note that the sturdy herbs in these soups are for infusion purposes only and they’re not meant to be eaten even though they are traditionally left in the soup for serving, much like a bay leaf or a rosemary sprig. It’s important to warn unfamiliar guests about this to save them from the unpleasant experience of biting into a stalk of lemongrass! To make it easier for them, you can remove the herbs before serving, though personally, I like to remove some and leave a few in the soup as garnish. This way, people can see where the bright, fresh flavors are coming from.

Clear Soups

In Thai, these are known as gaeng jeud, which translates as “bland curry,” or tom jeud, which literally means “bland soup,” but they are anything but bland. While these names belie the depth of flavor of these soups, they are intended to differentiate them from more robustly seasoned soups, because gaeng jeud are very light, never spicy, and use minimal herbs and seasonings. I think of gaeng jeud as our equivalent to miso soup, because in many families, especially ones with kids, they are served regularly as the default soup of the meal. Growing up, my family probably had gaeng jeud two to three times a week. This tofu pork soup is a great example of a simple, light yet flavorful clear soup.  

A white porcelain bowl holding the Thai pork and tofu soup. On the top righthand of the image is a bowl of white rice.
Serious Eats / Mariel De La Cruz

The base of gaeng jeud is most commonly pork stock, or chicken stock for those who don’t eat pork, though many busy home cooks today use bouillon cubes or powder added to water. Garlic, cilantro, and white pepper are usually added as aromatics. Some people pound them all together into a paste that we call saam gler, the equivalent of Thai mirepoix, and dissolve it into the broth. Others add fried garlic, garlic oil, white pepper, and chopped cilantro to the soup at the end.

In terms of proteins and vegetables, common options are pork spare ribs, lightly-seasoned pork meatballs, napa cabbage, soft tofu, egg tofu, glass noodles, green onions, and cilantro, though this can be changed to include whatever soup-friendly ingredients you have in your fridge. Seasonings are kept light and straightforward: soy sauce, fish sauce, and a touch of sugar as needed. 

Chinese-Style Soups

These soups are ones that have been influenced by Chinese immigrants, of which there are many in Thailand, my family included. It’s hard to pin down a description of what these soups are because they vary greatly, but they tend to involve braising meat and a prominent use of soy sauce, with none of the Thai herbs used in the herb-infused soups discussed above. To be clear, this category does not include the Chinese-style noodle soups I'd mentioned above.

A classic one is moo palo or kai palo, a dish of braised pork in a sweet-salty soy sauce broth with hard-boiled eggs. This is a strongly flavored soup that can be considered a stew, since it’s not ideal for sipping and should always be served over rice.

Overhead shot of finished moo palo with cut open eggs, dipping sauce, and a plate of rice
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Another that comes to mind is jap chai, a dish near and dear to my heart because it’s something my grandmother makes regularly. This is a humble soup made of braised pork ribs, cabbage, daikon, gai lan, dried shiitake mushrooms among other things. The broth is seasoned primarily with soy sauce and oyster sauce, and it is always served with rice.

How to Start Cooking Thai Soups At Home

When you’re ready to make your first Thai soup, I recommend trying one of the herb-infused soups first, whether that’s the tom yum pla or tom kha gai. They’re quick and easy, and will allow you to experience the iconic aromas and flavors of Thai cuisine. If you have kids, tofu pork clear soup is always a hit with them. And, once you’re ready for more, try a Chinese-style soup, which is always a treat as they’re not commonly available in Thai restaurants overseas. Then, feel free to play around with recipes by changing up the protein, vegetables, and herbs to see if you can come up with your own signature Thai soup!

Can Cheese Combat Climate Change?

The threat of climate change loomed large above Vermont’s 2022 Cheese Summit. I was invited to the event to taste and learn about local cheeses, made by the state’s eclectic roster of producers—and I did so, gladly. But as the weekend wore on, it becam…

The threat of climate change loomed large above Vermont’s 2022 Cheese Summit. I was invited to the event to taste and learn about local cheeses, made by the state’s eclectic roster of producers—and I did so, gladly. But as the weekend wore on, it became increasingly clear that, despite the event’s hyper-local focus, Vermont’s cheese producers are tackling a far bigger question: What will cheesemaking look like in a warming world? According to them, dairy just might be the thing that saves us all.

Thanks to their methane-rich belches, cattle are the largest producers of agricultural greenhouse gasses on the planet. Almost half of the land in the United States is used for livestock, and overgrazing of these areas leads to poor soil quality and decreased biodiversity. Meanwhile, the dairy industry has consolidated, replacing smaller farms and producers with corporate mega-farms. As organizations like Milk With Dignity and projects like Milked: Immigrant Dairy Farmworkers in NY State have documented, these systemic changes combined with falling milk prices have led to increasingly poor, unsafe, and hazardous conditions for farmworkers—especially those facing undocumented status.

Read More >>

7 Day Healthy Meal Plan (Oct 3-9)

A free 7-day, flexible weight loss meal plan including breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas and a shopping list. All recipes include macros and links to WW recipe builder to get your personal points. 7 Day Healthy Meal Plan October brings pumpkins, beautiful fall leaves and cool nights. On those nights, I love to be able […]

The post 7 Day Healthy Meal Plan (Oct 3-9) appeared first on Skinnytaste.

A free 7-day, flexible weight loss meal plan including breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas and a shopping list. All recipes include macros and links to WW recipe builder to get your personal points.

7 Day Healthy Meal Plan (Oct 3-9)

7 Day Healthy Meal Plan

October brings pumpkins, beautiful fall leaves and cool nights. On those nights, I love to be able to have a warm, comforting bowl of soup! If you are looking for one that will be ready when you get home- try my Slow Cooker Butternut Pear Soup. Want to prepare it after work? Try my Instant Pot Turkey Meatball and Ditalini Soup. Or check out one of my most popular soups- Beef, Tomato and Acini di Pepe Soup– with three cooking options! Round it all off with a salad or some garlic knots!
(more…)

The post 7 Day Healthy Meal Plan (Oct 3-9) appeared first on Skinnytaste.

Roasted Garlic

Deeply savory and subtly sweet, roasted garlic is a quick and easy way to take the flavor of your food to the next level.

The post Roasted Garlic appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I talk a lot about how oven-roasting magically makes everything taste better, and garlic is no exception! Fresh garlic has a spicy flavor punch, but roasted garlic has a deep, mellow, and slightly sweet flavor. It tastes great on its own or you can add it to just about anything you cook to give it that extra special flavor. It’s a really easy and inexpensive way to take your food to the next level.

close up overhead view of several heads of roasted garlic.

Why roast Garlic?

Not only is the flavor of roasted garlic phenomenal, but it also tends to be a bit easier on your stomach than fresh garlic. 😅 The flavor of roasted garlic is much more mellow and deep than fresh garlic, and it has a beautiful sweetness from the natural sugars that caramelize during the roasting process. Plus, you can roast several cloves at once while you’ve already got the oven going for something else, then you can store that roasted garlic in the freezer for later use!

How to Use Roasted Garlic

If you’re a garlic lover, like me, you’ll love just smearing this soft, spreadable roasted garlic on a piece of crusty bread. If you want to extend that garlic flavor a little more, you can whip it into some butter, cream cheese, or mayo for a delicious caramelized garlic butter spread. But really, it’s great in anything that would normally call for regular garlic. Try using roasted garlic in these recipes:

Roasted garlic being squeezed out of the skin.

How to Store Roasted Garlic

The easiest and most cost-effective way to make roasted garlic is to make several heads of garlic at once and to do so while you’ve already got the oven going for something else. Just pop them in the oven as you cook your meat, vegetables, or whatever else you might be roasting. But then what do you do with six or seven bulbs of roasted garlic??

Simply squeeze the soft roasted garlic out of the papery skin (that part is kind of fun, if you ask me), then measure out the roasted garlic paste into one teaspoon or one tablespoon portions. Place the potions on a parchment or plastic lined plate or baking sheet, freeze until solid, then transfer to an air-tight freezer bag for longer storage.

Roasted garlic will last about 4-5 days in the fridge and 3 months or more in the freezer.

Several heads of roasted garlic scattered on a surface.
Close up overhead view of bulbs of roasted garlic.
Print

Roasted Garlic

Deeply savory and subtly sweet, roasted garlic is a quick and easy way to take the flavor of your food to the next level.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Total Cost $4.16 per batch / $0.69 per head
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6 heads
Calories 83kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 6* heads garlic $3.84
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  • Remove any loose outer pieces of papery skin from the heads of garlic. Slice off the top ⅓ of each head to expose the cloves inside (save the pieces of garlic cloves that have been cut off to use in other recipes).
  • Place the garlic in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over the cut surfaces of the garlic, making sure they're coated in oil.
  • Cover the baking dish tightly with a lid or foil and transfer to the oven. Roast for 30 minutes, then check the garlic. Add more time in the oven, 10-15 minutes at a time, until the garlic is deeply golden brown. Total roasting time will vary with the size and number of garlic heads you're roasting, as well as the type of dish you're roasting in.
  • Let the garlic cool. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze the soft roasted garlic out of the heads. Use immediately, store in the refrigerator, or freezer for later use.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*You can roast one or several heads of garlic at one time. If roasting one head, simply wrap the head tightly in foil rather than using a baking dish.

Nutrition

Serving: 1head | Calories: 83kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 5mg | Fiber: 1g
Roasted garlic being spread on a toasted piece of bread.

How to Make Roasted Garlic – Step by Step Photos

Prepped garlic with outer skins removed.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Remove any extra loose pieces of the papery skin from the heads of garlic before you begin. It will be much easier to remove the roasted garlic if the loose skins have been removed.

Tops removed from garlic heads.

Slice off about ⅓ of the top of the garlic heads to expose all of the cloves. Make sure to save the garlic bits that are cut off and remove them from the skin. You can use the pieces that you cut off in other recipes later–it’s already partially chopped! :)

Oil being drizzled over garlic cloves in a glass dish.

If you’re only doing one head of garlic at a time, you can wrap the garlic in foil to create an enclosed space. If you’re doing several heads at a time, place them in a baking dish that either has an oven-safe lid or that can be tightly covered with foil. Drizzle the tops of the garlic with oil to help prevent them from drying out as they roast.

Dish covered with foil.

Cover the baking dish tightly (with a lid or foil), then transfer to the preheated 400ºF oven.

Roasted garlic in the dish with the foil pulled back.

Roasting time can vary a lot depending on the size of your garlic heads, how many you’re roasting at once, or if you’re roasting in a glass or ceramic dish as opposed to just wrapping with foil. Check the garlic at 30 minutes, then add more time, 10-15 minutes at a time, until they reach this deep golden brown color.

Roasted garlic in the baking dish with foil removed.

These beauties took just over 60 minutes to achieve that delicious golden color. Let the garlic cool until they can be easily handled, then squeeze the garlic out of the skins.

Roasted garlic heads scattered on a surface next to tomatoes.
Spread that delicious roasted garlic onto some toast, stir it into your broth or soup, or spread it right onto some bread to make a sandwich! Whatever you do with it, it will be SO DELICIOUS!

The post Roasted Garlic appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Perfect Fall Breakfast We love making pancakes, waffles, and French toast for breakfast every weekend. It is one of our favorite family traditions. During the fall months, I like to switch things up and make our favorite Pumpkin Pancakes. The pancakes …

Perfect Fall Breakfast We love making pancakes, waffles, and French toast for breakfast every weekend. It is one of our favorite family traditions. During the fall months, I like to switch things up and make our favorite Pumpkin Pancakes. The pancakes are light, fluffy, and full of fall flavor. Top a stack with butter, pure…

Pumpkin Cheesecake Baked Oatmeal.

This pumpkin cheesecake baked oatmeal is an autumn dream! It’s chewy and textured, stuffed with maple mascarpone cheese and topped with toasted pecans. Tastes like absolute heaven! Otherwise known as the best fall breakfast ever. EVER! Oh my gosh. I cannot say enough amazing things about these baked pumpkin cheesecake oats. I realize they don’t […]

The post Pumpkin Cheesecake Baked Oatmeal. appeared first on How Sweet Eats.

This pumpkin cheesecake baked oatmeal is an autumn dream! It’s chewy and textured, stuffed with maple mascarpone cheese and topped with toasted pecans. Tastes like absolute heaven!

Otherwise known as the best fall breakfast ever. EVER!

pumpkin cheesecake baked oatmeal

Oh my gosh.

I cannot say enough amazing things about these baked pumpkin cheesecake oats.

pumpkin oats

I realize they don’t look that special. And yes, I already rave about my pumpkin pie steel cut oatmeal. But this… this takes all the (oatmeal) cake. The steel cut oats are a creamy, hot bowl of pumpkin pie oats. This baked version is chewy and can be served warm, room temperature or even cold. It’s not creamy.

And I say “oatmeal cake” because I use my traditional baked oatmeal recipe for this – yes, that one! – and I’ve called it oatmeal cake for years. It is super chewy and decadent for oatmeal. And it tastes like a delicious oatmeal cake!

pumpkin oats with mascarpone cheese

This is like that, but with pumpkin. And a mascarpone cheese swirl. And toasted pecans. Plus, allll the cinnamon. Maybe even a drizzle of cream. 

This

is

unreal. 

I need you to make it this weekend! 

pumpkin cheesecake baked oatmeal

Baked oatmeal is one of my favorite things to make. It’s perfect for brunch, for a big family, for meal prepping for the week, pretty much anything. I love how well it reheats. You can top it with just about anything: seasonal fruit, nuts, seeds, nut butter, coconut – options are endless! It really is so customizable and delicious.

I love the texture and chew of baked oatmeal. I’ve seen many blended baked oat recipes on instagram and while they do look good, I prefer a heartier, chewy texture to my baked oatmeal. I want it to have that texture, especially when I’m making a large batch of it. 

And it’s hard to believe that I haven’t made a pumpkin version yet, but here we are. So this is what I do!

pumpkin cheesecake baked oatmeal

I add a scoop of pumpkin to my baked oatmeal recipe along with some pumpkin spice. I am notorious for loving pumpkin but NOT loving the spice that goes along with it. So I add what I find to be minimal spice. If you love the “spice” part of pumpkin, go ahead and add an extra teaspoon or so of spice.

Then, I stir together some softened mascarpone cheese with honey. Or maple syrup. Or brown sugar! Basically, whatever sweetener you have on hand, and just a small touch of it. This makes our cheesecake flavor. You could use regular softened cream cheese too, I just love mascarpone. 

I dollop the mascarpone cheese right on top of the oatmeal. When it bakes, it sinks down into the oats. It is PERFECT. 

Finally, I add a little cinnamon on top. A big handful of toasted pecans. I scoop and serve, then add a little drizzle of cream. Optional of course, but really takes it over the top.  (more…)

The post Pumpkin Cheesecake Baked Oatmeal. appeared first on How Sweet Eats.

Apple cider doughnut muffins

When I lived in New York City, I noticed that when the leaves began to change and the temperatures required a jacket, the farmer’s markets started offering hot apple cider…
Source

When I lived in New York City, I noticed that when the leaves began to change and the temperatures required a jacket, the farmer’s markets started offering hot apple cider...

Source

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Soup with Coconut and Galangal) Recipe

A sour, salty tom kha gai made with chicken stock and thighs, galangal, and coconut cream.

Overhead view of Tom Kha Gai
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Tom kha gai, a Thai chicken soup with coconut and galangal, has gained a spot on nearly every Thai restaurant menu in the West, and I often ask myself…why? The most obvious answer is simple: People like creaminess, as well as sour and salty flavors. Pair those elements with chicken and the almost medicinal flavor of galangal and you have a perfect example of comfort food, a soup that warms your soul and body. However, in my experience, the soup often fails to fulfill its potential. Many renditions contain too much coconut cream, making it feel like I’m sipping a warm smoothie, and they frequently don't have enough of that essential galangal flavor. The galangal isn't negotiable: after all, the soup is called tom kha, which translates to "boiled galangal."

As I thought about ways to boost the galangal flavor in the soup, I thought of how ginger is sometimes prepared in many Chinese dishes: It's pounded or blended with water before being strained to make ginger water. (Since I'm referring to ginger, I should say this here: please do not let me catch you making this soup with ginger. It's not a substitute for galangal.) I tested this method with galangal by pounding it in a mortar and pestle and then pouring warm chicken stock over the paste to let it infuse. After about 20 minutes, I was left with a concentrated galangal stock that tasted peppery and medicinal; exactly what I want in a tom kha. 

Side view of finished tom kha gai next to a bowl of rice
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Having answered the question of boosting the galangal flavor, I next had to prevent the soup from becoming a coconut smoothie. The solution is simple, cutting the coconut cream with something else to lighten the broth. While some will reach for water here, I choose to build a more deeply chicken-y soup by using a rich chicken stock that's seasoned with fish sauce and packed with aromatics like lemongrass and shallots. The addition of shallots provides undertones of sweetness that echo the later addition of coconut milk without adding extra sugar.

Once the chicken is cooked through, I add the coconut cream, fresh chiles, and makrut lime leaves to the pot. By adding these ingredients at the very end, the delicate flavor of the coconut cream is preserved and the bright and fresh flavors of those finishing aromatics are left intact.

Finally, I season the soup with equal parts fish sauce for saltiness and umami and lime juice for sourness. To make a full meal out of this, I recommend serving the tom kha gai with jasmine rice, green papaya salad, and makheua yao pad tao jiao (stir-fried eggplant). 

For the Galangal Stock: In a granite mortar and pestle, add galangal and pound until a coarse paste forms, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

Two Image collage. Top: galangal in a mortar. Bottom: paste after being ground in the mortar with a pestle
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring chicken stock to a simmer over medium heat, then remove from heat. Pour one-third of the warmed chicken stock over galangal in mortar, then with the pestle, press on galangal to extract its flavor into the stock, about 1 minute. Repeat process with remaining chicken stock, pressing on galangal each time to continue to express its flavor, then set aside to let the galangal infuse the stock. 

making galangal stock in the mortar and pestle
Vicky Wasik

For the Soup: Meanwhile, in the now-empty saucepan, add chicken stock, galangal, lemongrass, shallots, and 1 tablespoon fish sauce, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add chicken, return to a boil, then lower heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 20 minutes. 

a four image Collage of chicken stock, galangal, lemongrass, shallots, and 1 tablespoon fish sauce being brought to a boil, then chicken pieces being added and brought to a boil
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Pour galangal stock through a fine-mesh strainer into saucepan, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible before discarding the fiber. Stir in makrut lime leaves, fresh chiles, and coconut cream then remove from heat. Stir in lime juice and remaining fish sauce.

Four Image Collage. Top Left: Strained ingredients being pushed against the strainer to get as much juice into the stock as possible. Top Right: Coconut milk being adding. Bottom left: fish sauce being added. Bottom Right: Finished soup in pot on stove top
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

To serve, divide between warmed soup bowls and garnish with cilantro.

Soup being laddled into a bowl
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Special Equipment

Granite mortar and pestle, 2-quart saucepan

Notes

I prefer using homemade chicken stock made with only chicken and no aromatics. To do so, you can follow this recipe, making it with just chicken and water and no aromatics. If you’re using store-bought stock, look for one that is unsalted and includes minimal aromatics.

Coconut cream has higher fat content than coconut milk. If using boxed or canned coconut cream, make sure to stir the cream well before using since it will likely have a separate fat layer on top. If you cannot find coconut cream, coconut milk will work, the soup will just be a little less rich.

Make-Ahead and Storage

This dish is best served right away to preserve the freshness and sharpness of the ingredients. If you want to serve it the next day, you can reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding freshly squeezed lime juice as needed to brighten the flavor. 

87,000 Pounds of Ready-to-Eat Meat Products Are Recalled

Before you prepare pulled pork sandwiches or sausage and peppers for dinner tonight, check the meat in your fridge. Behrmann Meat and Processing Inc has recalled 87,382 pounds (nearly 44 tons) of assorted ready-to-eat pork and beef products, due to pos…

Before you prepare pulled pork sandwiches or sausage and peppers for dinner tonight, check the meat in your fridge. Behrmann Meat and Processing Inc has recalled 87,382 pounds (nearly 44 tons) of assorted ready-to-eat pork and beef products, due to possible listeria contamination. The various meat items were produced from July 7, 2022 to September 9, 2022 and were distributed to retailers in Illinois, Kentucky, and Missouri.

The list of ready-to-eat products includes, but is not limited to, pulled pork in BBQ sauce, blood sausage, cured pork hocks, bacon strips, beef weiners, smokehouse butterfly chops, sweet teriyaki beef sticks, boneless cured ham, pre-cooked bratwurst, bologna, and hot head cheese. The recalled products include the establishment number “EST 20917” inside the USDA mark of inspection. At this time, there have been no reported illnesses associated with the recall. A complete list of recalled products, including the lot numbers, can be found here.

Read More >>

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Coffee Maker

Want to brew a great cup of coffee every day? Here are tips (like when and how to clean your machine) to ensure your brewer gets it right every time.

A closeup shot of coffee grounds placed in a filter in a brew basket
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

I spent years making myself a pourover every morning until I finally ponied up for a drip brewer that could actually brew great coffee. While I thoroughly enjoyed lazier mornings with less work on my part, I found making the best auto-drip coffee required some of the same techniques necessary for a pourover. Because while high-quality drip brewers control the brew time and temperature, paying attention to ratio, grind size, and coffee saturation makes a world of difference when brewing larger quantities. 

The core of great auto-drip coffee is simple: buy freshly roasted, high-quality coffee, and grind it with a precision burr grinder. A recipe is only as good as the raw ingredients, and there’s no way to make a mediocre coffee taste anything but, well, mediocre. But a grinder, a brewer, and good coffee are only the first steps towards auto-drip greatness. 

  1. The following seven tips are designed to maximize your coffee brewing experience and achieve the best quality brewed coffee time and time again. Consistency is key, and when your morning coffee hangs in balance between delectable and undrinkable, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and get the most out of your coffee maker.

Tip 1: Keep It Clean

Also available at Seattle Coffee Gear; price at time of publish is $11.

Also available at Webstaurantstore; price at time of publish is $20.

Also available at Seattle Coffee Gear; price at time of publish is $12.

One of the biggest things that can impact the flavor of your coffee might not have anything to do with the brewing process itself; instead, it has to do with your carafe. As water reaches its boiling point inside the coffee maker, it can leave behind calcium and magnesium mineral deposits (scale), which can clog the machine. While some people use vinegar to descale, it leaves behind sharp odors and flavors. A dedicated descaling powder is much more effective, and leaves no traces behind.

Over time, carafes can also build up a layer of coffee oils which can go rancid. This grime can cause brews to taste musty and old. Cleaning powder is designed to break up these coffee oils to get back to a sparkling clean surface and prevents the ghost of coffee past from haunting your morning cup.  

Tip 2: Rinse Your Filter

A hand rinsing a coffee placed in a brew basket under the faucet
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Similar to cleaning your machine, the best way to ensure fresh tasting coffee is to rinse your filter before brewing. Paper absorbs liquid through capillary action, which is when a porous material can pull water along its surface. If you’re brewing coffee in a dry filter, you’re likely going to absorb some of that papery taste in your brew. A quick rinse of the coffee filter before brewing saturates the paper ahead of time, allowing the brewed coffee to pass through easily without absorbing into the already saturated filter. 

Tip 3: Weigh Your Coffee

Also available at OXO; price at time of publish is $56.

Weighing your coffee can have a massive positive impact on brew quality. Because various coffees have different densities as a result of coffee tree variety, how they were grown, or how they were roasted, a standard 2-tablespoon scoop just can’t match the precision of a gram scale. What we taste in brewed coffee comes directly from the amount of extractable solids in roasted coffee, and the best way to measure solids is in mass. A kitchen scale will do the trick, but we highly recommend coffee scales for their resolution and accuracy. 

A bag of coffee being poured into a ramekin set on a coffee scale
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

As for how much coffee to weigh out, the Specialty Coffee Association recommends 55 to 60 grams of coffee per one liter of water, allowing people to make slight adjustments based on brew strength preferences. Which brings us to our next tip.

Tip 4: Measure Your Water

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The measuring lines on your brewer’s reservoir are probably not accurate. In the United States, most coffee makers (including our top pick, the Ratio Six) measure coffee in “cups.” The issue is that a “cup” in coffee maker terms corresponds to five or six ounces, not a standard 8-ounce cup measurement. The best way to accurately measure the amount of water you’re actually brewing with is with a liquid measuring cup with milliliter marks. I use the OXO angled measuring cup, and it helps eliminate any of the guesswork in my morning brews. 

A measuring cup pouring water into a coffee maker's water reservoir
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

This chart below gives a range of brew strength preferences at a variety of different volumes, with the weight of coffee rounded to the nearest whole number.

You can always see if your water measurements line up with the pre-set markings on your brewer’s reservoir to save time, but true accuracy is measured in milliliters. 

Tip 5: Learn About Your Brewer’s Functions

A closeup look at water from the Ratio Six's shower head dripping into the brew basket
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

It’s best to research your brewer and learn if it has a bloom cycle, and how to make sure it is activated. When coffee is freshly roasted, it retains a small amount of CO2, which causes the grounds to expand, or “bloom,” when hit with hot water. The best pourover recipes always include a bloom cycle and, if possible, your auto-drip machine should, too. 

One thing all of our top winners have in common is that they’ve all been certified by the Specialty Coffee Association's home brewer standards. This means our top overall brewers (and our top brewer under $150) all meet strict standards for water temperature management and programmed brew times to ensure each brewer can deliver an amazing cup. 

But not every brewer operates the same. While the Ratio Six, OXO 8-cup brewer, and Bonavita 8-cup brewer all have wide sprayheads, good thermal stability, and fast brew times, the Ratio and OXO brewers come with a pre-set bloom cycle that evenly saturates the coffee and helps any lingering CO2 degas from the coffee bed, priming it for extraction. The Bonavita brewer also has a bloom cycle, but it’s not activated by default, and needs to be re-activated every time you unplug the brewer. 

Tip 6: Stir Your Coffee

Price at time of publish is $7.

Some brewers, like the Technivorm Moccamaster, have sprayheads that concentrate their stream in the center of the basket, and don’t feature a bloom cycle to help the coffee become evenly saturated. You can improve the evenness of extraction on brewers like this with a little manual effort. 

A spoon stirring coffee grounds as they brew
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

For brewers that don’t feature a bloom cycle, you can mimic one by stirring the coffee grounds with a spoon as soon as they become saturated. I prefer to do this with a round-backed cupping spoon (though you can use any spoon), and the Little Dipper from Umeshiso is the perfect size for agitating coffee grounds. Originally designed for tasting coffee in a cupping, the Little Dipper spoon has a deep bowl and is round instead of oblong, which helps break the crust and create turbulence for even saturation. Part of cupping requires breaking the crust that forms with the back of a cupping spoon, and stirring your grounds is extremely similar. Just get your spoon in there and zig-zag back and forth for about 30 to 45 seconds, on until the blooming of the coffee grounds settles down, allowing all the coffee to be saturated evenly. 

Tip 7: Check Your Water

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Water quality can impact coffee both in flavor and the lifespan of the brewer. If your water source has any off flavors, those can be reflected in the final brew. Carbon filters are a standard practice for most serious coffee drinkers, but these only go so far. Mineral content is key to coffee extraction: hard water minerals like calcium and magnesium actually assist in extracting coffee solids during the brewing process. But if the water is too hard, it can affect the water’s ability to extract. On the flip side, soft water’s lack of calcium and magnesium has a difficult time extracting solids effectively. Carbon filters are effective at removing chlorine, odors, and flavors, but they can’t actually affect the mineral content in the water itself. 

Instead of having to resort to expensive reverse osmosis water filtration systems that only the most obsessive coffee fanatics would install, an easy solution for folks with less-than-ideal water is Third Wave Water. It’s a collection of mineral packets custom designed to match the Specialty Coffee Association’s water quality standards that you dissolve into a gallon of distilled water for ideal coffee brewing. 

Having custom water coffee might seem like a major step, but for cities like New York (which has notoriously soft water) or Los Angeles (which has terribly hard water), keeping Third Wave Water on hand can be a quick solution to achieving better tasting coffee at home and also prolonging your coffee brewer’s health.

Or you can do what I did, and have a reverse osmosis water filtration system with a remineralization cartridge installed in your basement. Either way, your palate and brewer will thank you. 

FAQs

Is a high-end coffee maker worth the price?

High-end coffee makers often have certifications from the Specialty Coffee Association home brewers program. This means they can brew with 200-204ºF water, saturate the coffee evenly, and complete a brew cycle in fix to six minutes. These are the same brewing standards that commercial coffee makers follow, so if you want your coffee to taste as good at home as it does at your favorite coffee shop, high-end coffee makers might be worth the price.

How often should I clean my coffee maker?

Coffee makers can develop scale build up in the machine and coffee oil build up in the carafe with use. Scale build up takes a while to develop, and is reliant on how hard your water is. You should consider descaling your coffee maker every six months or so, and more frequently in places with very hard water. Coffee oil build up should be cleaned regularly with soap and water, and you can use a coffee machine cleaner to remove old built up grime when your carafe starts to smell like old coffee.

How long does a coffee maker last? 

A high-end coffee maker that’s cleaned regularly can last for many years. The biggest issue for the lifespan of a coffee maker is scale build up, which over time can clog the machine. It’s recommended to descale your coffee maker every six months, and more frequently in areas with harder water. Low-end brewers are made with cheap parts, and may only last a few years, even with a rigorous cleaning schedule.