Want to know about the taste and texture of sauerkraut before you give it a try? Then you've come to the right place.
Here's what you need to know...
What Does Sauerkraut Taste Like?
Sauerkraut is a dish of fermented cabbage. It tends to be very simple without many (if any) additional ingredients. Salt is part of the recipe, but usually, that's it.
Once the right level of fermentation is reached, the sauerkraut will be pleasantly tart, not unlike the way kombucha is tart but enjoyable.
Some sauerkrauts are so mild that they're almost sweet, but most are on the sour side. The longer you let it ferment, the tangier and more flavorful it will be.
Most of the time, sauerkraut is very soft. The cabbage is typically thinly sliced and swaps its firmness and crunch for a moist, almost cooked noodle-like texture.
When you first start making sauerkraut, it may turn out a lot firmer than you'd expected. This can happen if you don't massage the cabbage with enough salt for a long enough time. Don't skip this step! It'll help break down the dense cabbage leaves.
What Do You Eat Sauerkraut With?
In Poland, sauerkraut is eaten liberally with all kinds of foods, including pierogies (which we'll be checking out below), stews and vegetable sides.
Wherever you go in the world, you'll find that people are eating sauerkraut (or another fermented vegetable specialty) in different ways.
Vegans can enjoy sauerkraut on veggie burgers, in sandwiches, in hearty stews, in braised vegetable dishes and on vegan tacos. You can get pretty creative with it, and people certainly do.
Can You Eat Sauerkraut Raw?
You can and should eat sauerkraut raw. Fermented foods are excellent for building good gut bacteria. But if you cook them, this aspect of fermented foods will go away.
However, it's not bad to cook sauerkraut. It's actually cooked with quite a bit as the flavor is so delicious in all sorts of meals. Rest assured that you can eat it raw, cooked, hot or cold.
How Do You Know If Sauerkraut Has Gone Bad?
So how do you know if your already sour sauerkraut has gone too far in its fermentation process—or gone bad? Well, trust us, you can tell.
If you open your refrigerator and you're hit with a wall of funky smells, check the sauerkraut. If it smells like dirty socks, toss it. If it has any colors other than the cabbage shade it had when it was first made, toss it. And if it's at all slimy, definitely toss it. It's bad for sure.
Sauerkraut Recipe Tips
The best sauerkraut is homemade. If you've followed the steps to make vegan kimchi (spicy Korean fermented cabbage) in our kimchi guide, you can make this sauerkraut, no problem.
This video will show you all the steps for making sauerkraut with cabbage and salt. Whether you use other spices and ingredients is up to you, but we suggest giving the good old fashioned recipe a try first.
Once you've got your homemade sauerkraut, you can make pierogies. If you haven't had them, they're like Polish dumplings, and they're fantastic. Top them with sauerkraut and vegan sour cream.
Here's what you'll need:
- Mashed potatoes
- Salt and pepper
- Warm water
Sauerkraut has a tangy flavor that goes well with sandwiches, soups and savory dishes. It can be eaten raw or cooked, though it's best eaten raw if you want to keep its beneficial probiotic features. Try making a sauerkraut and vegetable stew or vegan pierogies for a special dinner. Tip: Freeze a big batch of pierogies and have them with a big dollop of sauerkraut whenever the mood strikes.