How Long Does Sauerkraut Last? – Grow Your Pantry

How Long Does Sauerkraut Last?

by Susan Grey on May 20, 2019
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How long does sauerkraut last?
Salted sauerkraut can last for a week or 2 at room temperature or 2 to 6 months when refrigerated.
Properly fermented sauerkraut (with vinegar and salt) can last for months on the kitchen counter or up to 2 years in your refrigerator (link).

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Warning! Over consuming sauerkraut can lead to bloating and flatulence because of the small intestine's inability to digest trisaccharides found in the cabbage.   

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What is Sauerkraut?

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Sauerkraut is a raw vegetable, particularly cabbage that is finely cut and fermented using lactic acid and salt. The name sauerkraut is actually German for ‘sour cabbage’ derived from its distinctive sour flavor and taste. It is mostly consumed as a side dish accompanying main courses, especially containing meats.  

Different Types of Sauerkraut

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There are different varieties of sauerkraut depending on the region it is sourced or produced. Although the process of making it is similar in most varieties, some added ingredients and fermentation period bring about the different types of sauerkraut. Common varieties include traditional/classical sauerkraut, turnip sauerkraut, and apple sauerkraut (link).

5 Storage Methods To Make It Last Longer

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The five most effective methods of storing and preserving sauerkraut are refrigeration, DIY cellar, kitchen counter, freezing, and canning with each method giving your sauerkraut a different shelf life.

Refrigeration

Sauerkraut can be refrigerated to increase its shelf life. This method, however, offers the least shelf life for your sauerkraut compared to freezing or canning (link).
How long does refrigerated sauerkraut last?
1-2 years.
Properly fermented and stored in a refrigerator at 35 degrees F it can last for a couple of years without going bad. There is also very minimal change to your sauerkraut smell, texture, and taste.
How?
Things you will need:
  • Jars
  • Jar lifter (optional)
  • Vacuum sealer (optional)
Method:
1. Scoop your sauerkraut and put it into refrigeration jars.
2. Close your jar tightly and make sure no air can enter.
3. Set your refrigerator at 35 degrees F and store your sauerkraut inside.

Kitchen Counter  

Sauerkraut does not necessarily need to be refrigerated for longer shelf life. You can keep your fermented cabbage on your kitchen counter and consume them for longer without going bad. How long you get away with this depends on the temperature in your home (link).
How long does it last on the kitchen counter?
1 - 2 months.
This method offers the shortest shelf life for your sauerkraut compared to all other methods of storage. Your sauerkraut can last for a couple of months or more on your kitchen counter depending on the room temperature.
How?
Things you will need:
  • Jars
  • Bowls
Method:
1. Scoop your sauerkraut and put it inside jars.
2. Tightly cover the jars and place them inside bowls – this helps to fetch overflowing sauerkraut juice into the bowls as time goes by.
3. Maintain a temperature of 77 degrees F and below, and leave your jars on the kitchen counter.

Freezing

This is the second most effective way of preserving your sauerkraut. However, freezing can cause it to lose some of the nutrients because of extreme temperatures (link).
How long does freezer sauerkraut last?
2 years +.
Because of the extreme temperatures, however, some of the nutrients may be lost. The taste, color, and texture of your sauerkraut remain the same throughout the storage period.
How?
Things you will need:
  • Jars or freezer bags
  • Vacuum sealer
  • Jar lifter (optional)
Method:
1. Scoop your sauerkraut into jars or freezer bags.
2. Close your jar tightly and make sure no air can enter. If you are using bags, seal the bag using a vacuum sealer to eliminate any air inside the bag.
3. Set your freezer at -0.4 degrees F and put your sauerkraut there.

Basement or DIY Cellar

Although controversial, this method of storing sauerkraut has actually been found to be effective especially for people without refrigerators. Many basements are dug into the earth where temperatures are around 53 degrees F and below (link).
Properly fermented it can last for a considerable amount of time in this temperature. The cooler your basement is the better.
How long does it last in the basement or DIY Cellar?
12-15 months.
Properly fermented it can be stored in the basement, backyard or DIY Cellar for months without going bad. Your sauerkraut will, however, be softer and sourer when stored this way as months go by.
How?
Things you will need:
  • Jars
  • Ice chest/garbage can or discarded chest freezer
  • Shovel
  • Hay
Method:
1. Dig a sizeable hole in your basement or backyard to accommodate the number of jars you want to store.
2. Monitor the temperature inside the hole depending on your area’s frost line.
3. Maintain the temperature at 53 degrees F or lower.
4. Put all your sauerkraut filled jars inside a clean ice chest/garbage can or discarded chest freezer.
5. Cover with an airtight lid put the can inside the hole and cover the hole with hay or grass.
6. Frequently monitor the temperatures to ensure they are 53 degrees F or lower.

Canning

Canning is the most effective way of storing and preserving your sauerkraut. Some nutrients may be lost in the process, but the method allows you to preserve it for years. There are two methods of canning: hot pack canning and raw pack canning method (link).
How long does hot packed sauerkraut last in a canning jar?
2-3 years.
Depending on the long-term storage method used, hot packed sauerkraut can last for a very long time. Properly sealed cans of sauerkraut should be stored in a cool, dry cupboard or for a longer lasting period in the refrigerator or freezer.
How long does raw packed sauerkraut last in a canning jar?
2-3 years.
Like hot packed sauerkraut, properly sealed cans of raw sauerkraut last between 2-3 years without going bad.
How?
Hot Packing Sauerkraut:
Things you will need:
  • Boiling water canner
  • Canning jars
  • Jar tongs
Method:
1. Sanitize your jars by placing the jar and lid inside simmering water for 4-5 minutes.
2. Place your sauerkraut and brine inside a saucepan and bring it to simmer over medium heat.
3. Stir frequently and avoid boiling.
4. Scoop your sauerkraut from the saucepan into your sterilized canning jars and cover tightly.
5. Leave at least 2cm of empty headspace at the top of your jar to prevent the can from bursting during the canning process.
6. Using jar tongs, place your jars of sauerkraut into boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
7. Remove the jars, allow them to cool down and then store them in your preferred long-term storage e.g. freezer or refrigerator.

Raw Packing Sauerkraut
Follow the exact process of hot packing sauerkraut but remember not to simmer your fermented cabbage.
Interested in learning more about canning? Check out our article here (link).

Has My Sauerkraut Gone Bad?

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Like any other food, sauerkraut has a shelf life. The shelf life varies depending on the type of sauerkraut and ranges between a couple of months to over two years.
Smell
The sauerkraut’s odor or smell is one way of telling if it has gone bad. Spoilt sauerkraut emits an off-smelling rotten odor.
Texture and Color
Spoiled sauerkraut has a slimy, slippery texture and discolored (greenish blue) cabbage specks because of growing mold.

 

 

Interested in learning more about fermenting & preserving?
Check out these articles:
What is Canning?
How Long Does Kimchi Last?
What Does Sauerkraut Taste Like?
What Does Kimchi Taste Like?
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