If you’re like most people, you’ve probably had your fair share of cabbage in one form or another. But what about sauerkraut? And, what does sauerkraut taste like?
Unless you’re of German descent or love sour-flavored foods, chances are you’ve never tried this traditional dish. And that’s a shame! Because if you enjoy cabbage, then you’ll enjoy sauerkraut.
Sauerkraut is one of the most popular fermented cultural dishes across various cuisines.
Sauerkraut which stands for “sour greens,” is a famous German dish that didn’t originate in Germany. This meal is prominently spotted right beside some hot-smoked salmon.
Aside from salmon, sauerkraut is also eaten with other smoked fish. Sauerkraut is also eaten as a dip, a side for larger meals, and a way to spice up different food.
What Is Sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is finely chopped fresh cabbages fermented in a brine of its own salty juice.
The fermentation process, which extracts the natural sugar from the cabbage into organic acids and carbon dioxide, takes three to six weeks, depending on the air temperature.
During fermentation, the acidity of sauerkraut increases, but the fermented cabbage does not develop a soft texture. The result is a dish with a distinctive sour and tangy taste due to the presence of lactic acid.
Sauerkraut was introduced to Europe by the Romans. The Romans spread this cuisine to Central and Eastern European and other countries like the Netherlands and France.
What does sauerkraut mean?
Sauerkraut in German means “sour greens,” “sour cabbage,” or “sour vegetable.”
Why You Should Try Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut features many health benefits, mainly because it supports the growth of beneficial probiotics.
Probiotics help break down food, reduce bloating, and promote regular bowel movements. Sauerkraut also helps boost immunity, heal the gut, and promote good brain health.
Easy To Make
Sauerkraut is easy to make from any wide variety of strains available. They only need a jar or container, brine, and fresh cabbage since this contains high sugar content.
Some recipes even add celery seed, onion powder, junifer barriers, and caraway seeds to create a fish with a unique and complex flavor profile.
Rich In Nutrients
Similar to yogurt, sauerkraut is rich in probiotics (beneficial bacteria) that is important for gut health – food digestion, vitamins, and minerals absorption.
142 grams of sauerkraut has a low caloric count and is a good source of vitamin C, B6, K, iron, manganese, folate, potassium, and iron. And a high source of sodium due to its salt content.
What Does Sauerkraut Taste Like? Does Sauerkraut Taste Good?
The best way I can describe the taste of sauerkraut is like kimchi without the spice. Sauerkraut has a distinctive salty and sour flavor or taste.
The most common type of sauerkraut has a smooth, crisp flavor with a fresh crunch and sometimes a hint of caraway seeds.
This type of sauerkraut is found in BBQs, right beside hot dogs, sausages, and hamburgers.
After the traditional sauerkraut, there is the “gnar gnar” sauerkraut. This tasty sauerkraut is a delicious combo of green cabbage, green bell peppers, kosher salt, leeks, jalapeños, sriracha, garlic, and red chili.
If you love colorful foods, you have to try the “beet red” or “beet sauerkraut.” This is a color-popping and tongue-wetting combo of fresh fermented beets, carrots, and red cabbage.
Is Sauerkraut An Acquired Taste?
Yes, sauerkraut is an acquired taste. I thought it was weird the first time I tried it. But the taste quickly grew on me.
Although many people are beginning to like the sour taste and eat it solely for its health benefits, others still can’t stand it.
Does Sauerkraut Taste Like Coleslaw?
Sauerkraut and coleslaw may share a common ingredient (cabbage), but they taste nothing alike.
Coleslaw is made of fresh chopped cabbage served cold with mayonnaise and lemon juice. But sauerkraut, on the other hand, is made from finely chopped cabbage, fermented in a brine of its juice and salt, and served warm.
The bottom line is there’s no similarity between their taste.
Does Sauerkraut Taste Like Vinegar?
Not necessarily. There are instances where sauerkraut is said to have a vinegar-like punchy taste, but this isn’t usually the case.
The vinegar taste comes from the process of fermenting when it is prepared in a certain way. Some people ferment their sauerkraut in vinegar, so it’s understandable for their sauerkraut to taste like vinegar.
Why Is Sauerkraut So Good For You?
Sauerkraut is so good for everyone because it’s packed with a bunch of powerful health benefits. This food has so many benefits one might be tempted to call it the king of all fermented meals.
Sauerkraut contains probiotics that perform multiple functions in the body.
First, probiotics are beneficial bacteria that protect the body from harmful bacteria and toxins.
Second, they make food easily digestible, allowing the gut to absorb nutrients faster. Probiotics improve gut health, boosting the immune system by enabling the gut to absorb nutrients better. A healthy gut = an improved immune system.
Probiotics help improve memory, brain health, mood stability, and reduce depression, autism, anxiety, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms.
Sauerkraut is low in calories and high in fiber. So if there’s anyone looking to prevent some weight gain or lose some weight, sauerkraut is the meal for you.
Where to Find Sauerkraut
- Grocery Stores – Sauerkraut is usually found on the grocery store’s pickle, condiment, or deli aisle. You can find it next to other fermented foods like kimchi. Grocery stores that sell sauerkraut are Walmart, Safeway, Target, Kroger, and Stop & Shop.
- German Markets – This is your best bet to getting sauerkraut of higher quality than typical store-bought sauerkraut. To find German Markets near you, search Germanfooods.org.
- Online Marketplaces – Sauerkraut can be bought online from sites like Amazon, Whole foods, and Kroger. These online marketplaces sell different sizes and varieties of sauerkraut– from crispy to traditional.
Does Sauerkraut Go Bad?
Absolutely! Sauerkraut goes bad when it has either passed its expiration date, has been contaminated with bacteria, or is improperly preserved.
If a can of sauerkraut is opened and not refrigerated, it should be as soon as possible. In contrast, refrigerated sauerkraut, and store-bought sauerkraut can last 4 to 6 months since they often contain preservatives.
5 Best Substitutes For Sauerkraut
Kimchi is a Korean dish made of fermented red raw cabbage, garlic, ginger, chili powder, and salt. Kimchi is practically the Korean and spicier version of sauerkraut.
Due to its popularity, kimchi is also super easy to find in most grocery stores. The first time my Korean roommate gave me kimchi, I literally spat it out.
I wasn’t expecting any non-Nigerian food to be packed with so much heat, lol. The only other time I was brought to my knees was when I took a teaspoonful of wasabi!
They have a very similar fermented flavor to sauerkraut. Dill pickles are super easy to get; almost every grocery store has jars of pickles readily available.
What is one thing carrots and sauerkraut have in common? The crunch! Carrots can taste similar to sauerkraut; all you have to do is toss them in apple cider vinegar.
Just like sauerkraut, pickled banana peppers have a sour and mild taste.
Relish is made from pickled cucumbers and tastes similar to sauerkraut. It is also crunchy but not as much as sauerkraut.
How To Store Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut can be stored in the refrigerator. Ensure the sauerkraut is placed in a tightly shut jar or freezer bag before placing it in the fridge.
There should be half an inch space between the sauerkraut and the lid of the jar or freezer bag to prevent spilling.
Sauerkraut can also be stored by canning. This method is quite efficient, and canned sauerkraut can last for years but takes hours to complete.
First, pour the sauerkraut in a pot and get it to simmer. Next, wash the canning jar and preheat them. Pour sauerkraut into the heated canning jars.
Add a lot of juice to prevent the jar from drying out. But keep half an inch between the juice and the lid of the jar.
Boil the sauerkraut jars for 20 minutes in a water bath canner heated to 212°F. The water bath canner should contain water that completely engulfs the jars.
Allow the jars cool for 5 minutes, then take them out of the water bath canner and place them on a stove or wire cookie rack. Leave them to cool off entirely and stash them in a kitchen cabinet (more info here).
How Do You Enjoy Sauerkraut
- As A Condiment – This is the simplest to enjoy sauerkraut; add a bit of sauerkraut to your main meal. Take your jar, scoop out two to three spoons of sauerkraut and add to your meal. Easy peasy.
- As It Is – If anyone can stand the taste of sauerkraut all by itself, they might as well eat it that way.
- With Avocado – This combination is vibrant and nutritious. Cut an avocado in half and top each half with sauerkraut.
FAQ About Sauerkraut
What can I add to sauerkraut to make it taste better?
You can add juniper berries, lemon peels, ginger, celery root, caraway seeds, carrot, fennel, garlic, dill, or beets.
Does coleslaw have the same benefits as sauerkraut?
No, coleslaw does not have the same benefits as sauerkraut. With the probiotics content in sauerkraut, the body more easily absorbs nutrients. In addition, sauerkraut is rich in minerals, fibers, and vitamins.
Can you eat sauerkraut raw?
You most certainly can! If you are one of those people who love the taste of raw sauerkraut, nothing should stop you.
Is sauerkraut crunchy?
Of course, sauerkraut is crunchy. It doesn’t lose its crunchiness during fermentation.
Does sauerkraut make you poop?
Sauerkraut does make you poop. Its fiber content causes stool to bulk up and be discharged regularly. People with sensitive stomachs are not advised to eat a lot of sauerkraut.
Over-consumption of Sauerkraut can leave large amounts of raffinose in the stool, which may result in diarrhea.
What do you eat sauerkraut with?
Sauerkraut can be eaten with a variety of other meals.
It can be eaten as is, with avocado toast, hot dogs, Reuben sandwiches, pork chops, sweet potatoes, grilled chicken sandwiches, deviled eggs, tuna salad, Cubano sandwiches, coleslaw, sushi, fish tacos, etc.
So what does sauerkraut taste like? In a word: sour. But it’s not just sour for the sake of being sour.
There’s a pleasant tanginess to it that is reminiscent of yogurt or sourdough bread. And unlike some other fermented foods, sauerkraut is not overly pungent or funky tasting.
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to give sauerkraut a try, consider this: it’s an extremely versatile ingredient that can be used in all sorts of dishes, from salads and sandwiches to main courses and side dishes.
Plus, it’s packed full of probiotics which are great for gut health. So if you’re looking for a delicious and healthy way to add some excitement to your meals, then look no further than sauerkraut!
Have I convinced you to give sauerkraut a try? I hope so! Because once you do, we’re certain that you’ll be hooked.
Just remember to start with a small portion size if you’re unsure how much tanginess your taste buds can handle. Otherwise, have fun experimenting with this delicious and healthy ingredient!
For more frequently asked questions, visit our index of food-related questions and answers. Here are a few popular questions for you: