Few foods give us incredible health and gut benefits like fermented vegetables. For that reason, one of the most popular side dishes today is sauerkraut. However, the sour and tasty fermented cabbage is not only healthy but tasty, too.
Sauerkraut is a side dish that can be made or bought. Since it is a healthy treat, it makes sense to always have some on hand. First, however, we might wonder whether sauerkraut goes bad.
Does Sauerkraut Go Bad?
Sauerkraut can go bad, especially if it isn’t stored correctly. Store-bought sauerkraut tends to contain vinegar and preservatives, so it lasts longer than homemade sauerkraut. However, although the store-bought variations might last much longer, they don’t offer as many health benefits as homemade versions of sauerkraut do.
It is not uncommon for people who love sauerkraut to buy store-bought sauerkraut and then add their cabbage as they work their way through their supply. This way, the container of sauerkraut can last much longer.
How Long Does Sauerkraut Last?
The shelf life of sauerkraut depends on a few factors, including whether it is freshly made or bought from the store. Freshly-made sauerkraut usually doesn’t contain preservatives or kinds of vinegar, so it doesn’t last as long.
Another vital factor when it comes to the shelf life of sauerkraut is the preparation conditions. If the sauerkraut was made in sterile conditions, it would last longer. However, it won’t last well if unclean preparation surfaces or containers are used when making sauerkraut.
Store-bought sauerkraut that hasn’t been opened can last well for up to two years. However, once it is opened, the shelf life of the sauerkraut dramatically decreases. Therefore, if you have opened your store-bought sauerkraut, it is best to enjoy it within six months.
If you enjoy making your sauerkraut fresh, be sure to finish it within a month.
How Long Does Sauerkraut Last?
|Store-bought, unopened||24 months|
|Store-bought, opened||6 months|
|Freshly made||1 month|
3 Tips to Tell if Sauerkraut has Gone Bad
Although fermented food offers excellent health benefits, it can be dangerous to consume sauerkraut that has gone past its best. Since sauerkraut can house bacterial growth and mold contamination, it is crucial to know how to tell if it has gone bad.
There are three ways to tell if your sauerkraut has gone bad. If you are unsure whether it is still fresh or not, it is best to avoid eating it. Here are the ways that you can tell if your sauerkraut has gone past its best:
Change in the appearance of your sauerkraut
Sauerkraut has a light cream color. If you notice that your sauerkraut has undergone a color change, it is best not to eat it. Additionally, if you see green spotting or evidence of mold contamination, you should throw it out.
If you notice that your sauerkraut is much more liquid than before, it is most likely not fresh anymore.
Your sauerkraut smells unpleasant
Sauerkraut has a light, slightly sour fragrance that many people find unpleasant. However, if you notice that your sauerkraut’s scent has become overwhelmingly vile, it is best to throw it out. Sauerkraut should always have a light fermented aroma and not a powerful smell of rotten food.
The Sauerkraut tastes bad
If you have examined and smelled your sauerkraut and it appears to be fine, the third way you could tell if it is suitable for consumption is by tasting a bit of it. Again, it is vital to check for any signs of mold before tasting your sauerkraut.
If you take a bite of your sauerkraut and it tastes bitter, rotten, or overwhelmingly sour, it is best to invest in a fresh batch. You won’t enjoy the rotten tasting sauerkraut anyway.
4 Tips to Store Sauerkraut
For those who love having fermented food in the house, it is always beneficial to know how to store it. By storing your sauerkraut correctly, you can extend the shelf life of your sauerkraut by months. This way, you will never have to throw sauerkraut out again.
Here are four tips to store sauerkraut that will help you get the most from your sauerkraut:
Store opened or freshly made sauerkraut in the refrigerator
If you have sauerkraut that hasn’t been opened yet, you can safely keep it in your pantry for up to two years. However, once you open your sauerkraut, you need to keep it in the fridge to avoid mold contamination and bacterial growth.
Once you open or make sauerkraut, you need to place it in a container that is safe for refrigeration, and that is airtight. By keeping it in the fridge, you create an unfavorable environment for bacteria and mold to grow. That is why your sauerkraut won’t last long outside of the fridge but last well in the refrigerator.
Remove what you need and place it back in the fridge
Warming and cooling conditions aren’t great for sauerkraut. Therefore, taking your sauerkraut out of the fridge for an hour or two and then placing it back isn’t ideal. Therefore, if you plan to enjoy your sauerkraut with dinner, instead of keeping all of it out until dinner has passed, take out what you need and place the rest back in the fridge.
Don’t store your sauerkraut in a can
As with most food, storing your sauerkraut in a can in the refrigerator isn’t a good idea. Therefore, if you have bought canned sauerkraut, you should remove it from the can and place it in a glass or plastic container. It is crucial to choose a container that can seal well.
If you prefer to keep your sauerkraut in a ziplock bag, that is perfectly acceptable as long as the bag seals completely. However, if you throw canned sauerkraut into a container or ziplock bag, remember to add the brine, too. Sauerkraut needs to be stored in brine to prevent it from drying out and becoming rancid too quickly.
Add fresh sauerkraut ingredients safely
If you enjoy filling up your supply of sauerkraut as you work your way through your sauerkraut, you can easily do so by adding fresh, finely chopped cabbage to your brine. However, be sure to wash your fresh cabbage properly because cabbage that has come into contact with bacteria or mold can spoil your entire batch.
When you add fresh cabbage to your sauerkraut supply, make sure that it is completely submerged in brine so that it can begin to ferment.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Sauerkraut
Unfortunately, consuming sauerkraut that has gone bad can make you very sick. Likewise, if sauerkraut has become contaminated by mold, it is unsafe for consumption. That is why it is so important to check carefully whether your sauerkraut is still suitable for consumption.
If you eat sauerkraut that has gone past its best, you can experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, a low-grade fever, abdominal cramping, nausea, and a headache. If you are still suffering from these symptoms after 24 hours, it is best to see a doctor. It is also essential to remain hydrated if you are recovering from food poisoning due to expired sauerkraut.
Can You Freeze Sauerkraut?
Although you can freeze sauerkraut, it will affect the texture, appearance, and taste of your sauerkraut. Many people who make or buy sauerkraut in bulk enjoy freezing it since it prolongs the shelf life of the sauerkraut significantly. However, defrosted sauerkraut doesn’t have the same fresh crunch like that of refrigerated sauerkraut.
If you keep your sauerkraut frozen, don’t be surprised if you notice that your sauerkraut seems lighter in color when it is defrosted. It is also not uncommon for frozen sauerkraut to lose its aroma, so your defrosted sauerkraut might not have a smell anymore.
Similar to sauerkraut kept in the fridge, warming and cooling don’t improve the quality of the sauerkraut. Therefore, defrosting and refreezing aren’t advised. So if you have a large amount of sauerkraut on hand, freeze it in smaller portions that will make it easier to defrost only the amount you need instead of the entire batch.
Frozen sauerkraut should be left to thaw completely before the brine is removed, and then the sauerkraut can be enjoyed. Although mold contamination and bacteria growth are unlikely in a freezer, it is always best to check for signs. If you notice that your frozen sauerkraut has become contaminated, throw it out.
When you decide to freeze your sauerkraut, be sure to place it in a freezer-safe container or a ziplock bag. It is essential that you seal the container or bag properly to avoid moisture from penetrating and spoiling your sauerkraut.
Sauerkraut has become a welcomed addition to plates around the world. The fermented treat is healthy, versatile, and cheap. If you enjoy sauerkraut, you can consider always having a supply on hand so that you can reap the health benefits that sauerkraut offers. In addition, by storing your sauerkraut correctly, you can enjoy fresh and delicious sauerkraut without concerns that your sauerkraut has gone bad.