Sauerkraut (literally translated as ‘sour cabbage’) is one of the most popular pickled vegetables. During the preparation, raw shredded cabbage is salted and fermented by lactic acid bacteria that give the distinct sour flavor and taste.
Just like kimchi, sauerkraut is also highly preferred for its probiotics content—the friendly bacteria for your gut.
Sauerkraut is not only tasty but also highly nutritious. It is low in calories, but rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Although this sour cabbage is the perfect pair for many meat dishes, we don’t always finish the pack after several servings. So, can you freeze sauerkraut for later use? What about freezing homemade sauerkraut?
Surprisingly, sauerkraut freezes pretty well. Freezing extends its shelf life while maintaining its quality and nutritional value.
Keep on reading to find out more information on freezing sauerkraut.
When Does Freezing Sauerkraut Make Sense?
Commercially-produced sauerkraut is usually packed in a can or jar. Freezing an unopened can doesn’t make sense. Canned sauerkraut lasts for at least a few years, and freezing doesn’t improve the shelf life.
After opening, it stays only for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. At this point, freezing is a feasible option to extend shelf life. (*)
Sauerkraut is widely available at the store, but also relatively easy to prepare at home. If you choose to make it at home, follow a tested recipe from credible sources.
When it comes to the homemade version, it usually stays fresh for several months with proper refrigeration. Again, you can extend the shelf life by freezing it.
How To Freeze Sauerkraut
Freezing this fermented cabbage is incredibly easy. Anybody can do it. Follow the steps below to freeze sauerkraut properly. (*)
1. Divide sauerkraut into a single meal portion.
An individual pack is handy to use right away. Whenever you need it, you can pull out a bag with an appropriate amount for a single serving rather than taking out a massive amount and have leftovers.
2. Pack into a freezer-safe bag or container. Don’t freeze unopened cans. If you use a glass jar, choose a tapered freezer jar. Regular glass jars will break easily at cold temperatures.
3. Leave ½ inch of headspace on the surface to allow expansion of the liquid during freezing.
4. Seal the container tightly and label with the freezing date and the amount (if necessary).
5. Place the packages in the freezer.
6. Maintain your freezer’s temperature to 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower.
Can you freeze sauerkraut and pork?
You can freeze cooked dishes prepared with sauerkraut, including the classic sauerkraut and pork, casseroles, or soups. To freeze it, divide the leftovers into individual portion sizes, pack it into a freezer-safe container, leave headspace, seal tightly, and freeze for 2 to 3 months.
How To Use Frozen Sauerkraut
You can use frozen sauerkraut as side dishes, condiments, or as an ingredient for cooked dishes. Check these ideas on how to use up your sauerkraut supply:
- – as a side dish to pork chop, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, German potato salad, or any meals
- – cook into stews and soups
- – add into your burger, sandwiches, or burrito
- – as salad dressings
- – add to vegetable stir fry
- – mixed into your healthy smoothies
- – enjoy with avocados
How To Defrost Frozen Sauerkraut
You have a few options to thaw frozen sauerkraut safely.
- Refrigerator thawing
Simply place a frozen pack in the fridge and let it defrost slowly.
- Microwave thawing
This method is an excellent option if you don’t have much time. Place a frozen pack and use the defrost mode in small increments of 10 to 30 seconds (depending on the size). Keep your eyes on the microwave if you don’t want to overheat it.
- Use it frozen
If you plan to use frozen sauerkraut for cooked dishes, simply throw it into the pan and let it cook with other ingredients. You may need to adjust the cooking time.
How Long Can You Freeze Sauerkraut?
When properly prepared and frozen, homemade sauerkraut can last for 8 to12 months after freezing. Meanwhile, leftover canned sauerkraut can be frozen for up to 1 to 2 months.
|Homemade||8 to 12 months|
|Store-bought (opened)||1 to 2 months|
It may stay edible after it, but the flavor and texture may have drastically changed. You should always check for its freshness before serving.
According to Penn State University, freezing sauerkraut doesn’t only preserve probiotics but also maintain its crunchy texture. These good bacteria stay in a dormant state during freezing and resume their active state when defrosted. If you’re adding this fermented cabbage into cooked dishes, do it at the end of the cooking process. Heating reduces the number of live probiotics. (*)
Yes, freezing cabbage is an easy and tested way to prolong its shelf life. Keep in mind that you need to cook or blanch raw cabbage before freezing.
Sauerkraut is a fermented product which makes it more challenging to check if it’s spoiled. However, if you sense a noticeable change in aroma (like the rotting smell), texture, or moldy parts, these are clear signs to discard any leftovers.
Sauerkraut is a fermented vegetable with an acidic environment that doesn’t support Clostridium botulinum growth—the bacteria causing botulism poisoning. If you’re making it at home, follow the procedures correctly, and safely store the fermented cabbage. (*)
Studies show that sauerkraut may induce local inflammation, while repeated consumption may result in diarrhea. It is also high in histamines, which can provoke allergic reactions in some people. (*)
Although it may sound unfamiliar, freezing sauerkraut is actually a great option to prolong its shelf life.
Whenever you have abundant leftovers, or you want to make a big batch of homemade sauerkraut to enjoy later, freezing is a home preserving method that’s worth a try.
*image by AndreySt/depositphotos