Does Sauerkraut Go Bad?

Does Sauerkraut go bad or not? How do you tell if Sauerkraut has gone bad in the first place and is it safe to consume? Here's a short guide.

Do you love pickled cabbage and have just bought a large container of sauerkraut? Are you wondering how to store it so that you can enjoy it for a long time?

Here is some good news.

Sauerkraut contains cabbage and brine. The ingredients that constitute brine are sugar, salt, and vinegar. They assist in fermentation and also increase the shelf life of sauerkraut.

If you make it at home and store it carefully, it can remain good for almost a year. Manufacturers add chemicals and artificial flavors and colors to make it last even longer.

Does that mean that sauerkraut never goes bad? Unfortunately not.

Sauerkraut can get spoiled if there is no pickle solution to preserve it.

Related:Does Coleslaw Go Bad?

How To Know If Sauerkraut Has Gone Off

sauerkraut in wooden container

If air enters the container or in case there is a microbe imbalance, it might get spoiled.When the sauerkraut is spoiled, it may:

  • dry out
  • lose its flavor
  • become brown
  • emit a weird smell
  • have a pink scum
  • develop mold

If there are no signs of this kind, you can continue to use your sauerkraut.

Before you chuck your sauerkraut in the bin: you might be wondering about that white layer on top of your cabbage. Don’t worry, this white layer is yeast and is completely harmless.

Also, if your sauerkraut has gone cloudy, that’s because of the iodine present in the salt. Again, this cloudiness is nothing to worry about.

One last thing – if your sauerkraut smells and looks fine but tastes a little bit mushy and not as good as it used to, why not cook it up in a dish? That way, you can eat your sauerkraut – which is perfectly safe to consume – without noticing the degradation in quality.

How To Store Sauerkraut

sauerkraut brands

There are a myriad of ways of storing sauerkraut. Choose the one that is most suitable for you.

  • Keep it in the refrigerator: Keep sauerkraut that hasn’t been processed in the refrigerator. If you’re unsure whether your sauerkraut needs to be kept in the fridge, just check where it is in the grocery store. If it’s in the chilled section, store it in your refrigerator.
  • Freeze it: Put your sauerkraut in resealable bags and pop them in the freezer. Remember to remove the air from those bags before putting them in the freezer. It will remain good for 8 to 12 months.
  • Can it: You can heat the jars of sauerkraut at high temperatures. It will kill the bacteria and prevent spoilage. But this type of sauerkraut will lack nutrients and beneficial bacteria.
  • Store it in a cool, dark place: Place your jar of sauerkraut in a cool, dark area, like a pantry or kitchen cabinet. But only do this with sauerkraut that’s not sold in the chilled area.
  • On the counter: Although it won’t last as long and may become soft, you can thank the fermentation process for this easy storage option!

Now: however, you store your sauerkraut, once it’s opened, make it a point to push the cabbage into the liquid and keep it immersed. That way, you keep your cabbage in that preserving brine!

How Long Sauerkraut Lasts

steamed sauerkraut

You’ll find a best-by date on your jar of sauerkraut, which is usually about 6 months after production. If you want to enjoy your sauerkraut at its best quality, this is definitely when you should consume it by.

However, your sauerkraut will probably be good to eat beyond this point. Here are the rules of thumb:

  • Unopened, refrigerated sauerkraut should be good for at least 6 months after the best-by date.
  • Opened, refrigerated sauerkraut will stay edible for 6 months.
  • Unrefrigerated, unopened sauerkraut will last 3-6 months after the expiration date.
  • Unrefrigerated, opened sauerkraut will only last 5-7 days.

The Bottom Line On Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut can remain edible for a very long time if stored under optimal conditions. But it may get spoiled if there is less liquid to cover it and if it comes into contact with air.

There are plenty of sure-shot ways to save your sauerkraut from going bad and make it last for a year. All you have to do is store it in a cool place, keep it in the fridge or freezer, or heat it at high temperatures and destroy the bacteria that spoil it.

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Alisa Shimoyama
Alisa Shimoyama

Alisa eats her way around the world on her travels and likes to have good food ready and waiting for her when she gets back.