The other day, I found myself asking, can you freeze sauerkraut? I had never thought about it. I love making sauerkraut, and it is one of my favorite condiments, but sometimes I want to make sure it lasts longer. That is why I decided to put together this article, where you will see everything you need to know about sauerkraut and whether you can freeze it.
What is sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage that offers many health benefits, including everything a probiotic food brings. Eating sauerkraut can lead to a healthier gut microbiota, overall, leading to better digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Many believe that the origins of sauerkraut date back to China more than 2,000 years ago. At first, the fermentation process occurred with cabbage in rice wine.
These days, sauerkraut is prepared by slicing cabbage very thinly, leaving it raw, and then allowing it to ferment with lactic acid and bacteria. Fermented foods are very healthy, and they contain bacteria that promote gut health.
Since sauerkraut is fermented, it is meant to last longer than other foods. However, there are some cases in which your sauerkraut will go bad after opening.
Can you freeze sauerkraut?
The short answer is sometimes. While it is safe to freeze your sauerkraut, it can also reduce some of the health benefits it usually offers. For the most part, sauerkraut is a probiotic-rich food, but once you freeze it, the bacteria may begin to die.
Still, sauerkraut can usually last in the fridge for about six months, so freezing it may not be necessary. If you do end up needing to do this, you can, and the flavor and texture will not change much. Freezing is a great way to preserve sauerkraut that you have already opened and know you will not be able to consume in time before it goes bad.
Other reasons to preserve sauerkraut in the freezer are if you believe your fridge is not working well. If you think you could expose the food to unsafe conditions, freezing it right away is a good way to prevent decomposition and food poisoning.
Here is how to freeze sauerkraut
Before you go ahead and freeze your sauerkraut, there are some things you should take into account. The freshness, flavor, and texture of your sauerkraut depend on how well you can store it in the freezer.
Follow these tips to freeze your sauerkraut:
- Freeze your homemade sauerkraut the day that you make it. This will prevent the sauerkraut from spoiling sooner since homemade fermented products last less time.
- For store-bought sauerkraut, leave it closed in the fridge for as long as you want. The moment you open the container, you should freeze the remaining sauerkraut as the degradation process has already started.
- When you are ready to freeze it, transfer it to a freezer bag or freezer-safe container.
- Leave a bit of space at the top of the container or bag because your sauerkraut liquid can expand once it freezes.
- Be sure to remove as much air as possible and seal your bag or container as tight as you can.
- Frozen sauerkraut should last between eight months to a year if stored correctly.
Alternatively, if you want to, you can save smaller portions of your sauerkraut in ice cube trays. To freeze the sauerkraut this way, add a few tablespoons of your sauerkraut into cube trays. I suggest you use a bigger, deeper ice cube tray that can hold larger portions and will not make a mess when freezing your sauerkraut.
You can do the same thing by using smaller glass containers. If you have those smaller Mason jar containers, use them to freeze separate portions of your sauerkraut.
When you are ready to use your sauerkraut…
Once you are ready to eat or use your frozen sauerkraut, the dilemma of how to defrost it starts.
The easiest way to do this is to defrost your sauerkraut in the refrigerator over a few days. For the most part, sauerkraut should be ready to be eaten by the third or fifth day. However, I recommend you use your sauerkraut immediately after, or it will spoil.
If that does not work, you can thaw your sauerkraut by leaving it at room temperature for only a few hours. Do this when the temperature is not too hot, and remember to eat your sauerkraut right after.
Lastly, if you want, defrost the sauerkraut using the microwave for a few seconds. Keep in mind this will make your sauerkraut heat up quickly, and the texture may soften.
You can also use your frozen sauerkraut as is, directly in a dish that you are cooking. When making things like stews, pork, or sauces, you can instead add it frozen, and the dish will be equally flavorful. This may preserve the texture and flavor better.
When you are ready to use your sauerkraut, why not try a couple of new dishes? This fermented sauerkraut with apple is one of my favorites. For a cookout, try this fermented sauerkraut recipe instead.