Can you freeze sauerkraut? People often ask if sauerkraut is freezable to help retain its freshness longer. The simple answer to this question is yes. But back in the old days, it was kept in jars on the countertop and scooped out when necessary as a condiment topping.
Today, many people worry about food poisoning occurring from leaving sauerkraut out. This is where the question of, “sauerkraut freeze safely,” came about.
Sauerkraut occurs by fermenting cabbage with lactic acid bacteria. The lactic acid reacting with the sugars in the shredded cabbage is what causes the distinct sour flavor you enjoy. Sauerkraut is useful as a condiment upon all kinds of foods such as hot dogs, burgers, Reuben sandwiches, and even soups.
Many people eat this satisfyingly tasty food not only because of its unique flavor, but because it helps add beneficial bacteria to their digestion system that helps keep it healthy and functioning properly.
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Sauerkraut does retain flavor and a longer shelf life when frozen, but again it must be frozen when fresh. Overall, it is not recommended to freeze sauerkraut because most open jars of the fermented food can last safely in the refrigerator for a couple months at a time before spoiling.
You really only need to freeze sauerkraut when you have an overwhelming amount you know you cannot possibly eat up by the use by date or in a reasonable amount of time. Below is our guide on how can you freeze sauerkraut.
How to Freeze Sauerkraut?
If you have a heaping amount of homemade or store-bought sauerkraut you want to freeze it is best you do it the day you make it, or the day you open the store bought the container it came in. However, since sauerkraut has a quite long shelf life in the fridge, there shouldn’t be any issues if you decide to freeze it a few days or even weeks after opening the container or jar. Just make sure the sauerkraut is fine to eat when you decide to freeze it and things should go just fine.
The way you freeze extra sauerkraut is by scooping it into freezer safe containers and sealing the containers shut tightly. After, place a label with the date you are freezing the sauerkraut onto the container. Then, place the sauerkraut in the freezer to help preserve its shelf life.
Sauerkraut is capable of staying well preserved this way for up to 6-months, but for quality reasons it is recommended to use it up within the first month or two.
Freezing Cooked Sauerkraut
Love making sauerkraut at home? You can freeze this dish with relative ease. Homemade sauerkraut made with little liquids is best suited for freezing. The reduced liquids mean the quality of the vegetable won’t be altered once the side dish has been thawed.
To freeze cooked sauerkraut, just spoon the dish into a resealable plastic bag. If you want to make thawing easier, we highly suggest dividing a large batch of cooked sauerkraut into single serving portions. After spooning the sauerkraut in the plastic bag, squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing. Write the storage date then stick flat in the freezer.
How to Defrost Frozen Sauerkraut?
There are a few ways one can go about defrosting sauerkraut:
- Overnight in the fridge. If sauerkraut is defrosted in the fridge, it can be stored there for additional 3-5 days before using.
- Microwave. Make sure you use the defrost feature and run the microwave in small (10-30 seconds) increments until it’s fully defrosted. Use right away.
- On the countertop. It takes a few hours to defrost sauerkraut on the countertop, depending on the size of the container or bag. To speed up the process you can transfer the bag into cold water. Use immediately.
- Throw directly into a cooked dish. If you’re using the sauerkraut in a cooked dish, there’s usually no need to defrost it first. Just throw it in frozen and add a few minutes to the cooking time to account for defrosting.
Freezing Sauerkraut FAQ
Can You Freeze Sauerkraut and Pork?
Although raw or freshly made sauerkraut is best suited for freezing, there is no need to throw out cooked sauerkraut with pork because it is safe to freeze this dish. But since this side dish is cooked, you should freeze it as soon as it has cooled down. To freeze pork and sauerkraut, just spoon the dish into a resealable freezer bag or airtight container. If you’re using a bag, squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing. Write the storage date then stick flat in the freezer. If you want to make thawing easier, we highly suggest dividing a large batch of cooked sauerkraut into single serving portions. Also, try to strain some of the liquids to preserve the crunch of the vegetables. When it comes to reheating, baking in the oven or using a non-stick frying pan would be the best options.
Can You Freeze Sauerkraut and Kielbasa (Sausage)?
Similarly to sauerkraut and pork, there’s no reason not to freezer sauerkraut and sausage. Once the dish has cooled, divide the leftovers into as many portions as you need and transfer them into freezer bags. Label the bags with name and date if needed, then put them into the freezer. Reheat on a non-stick frying pan. Before reheating I’d suggest thawing it on the countertop for an hour or so. This way it’s partly defrosted and it’s much easier not to burn this dish on the frying pan.
Does Freezing Sauerkraut Kill Good Bacteria (Probiotics)?
Fermented foods like sauerkraut are teeming with beneficial bacteria called probiotics. These microbes aid in digestion and promote better health. A 4 to 6 ounce serving of sauerkraut contains trillions of probiotics. But if you made a large batch of sauerkraut, does freezing affect the live culture in the side dish?
There is conflicting information about this issue. Although probiotics are temperature sensitive and the possibility that these beneficial bacteria could die once frozen is high, they won’t be wiped out completely once the sauerkraut is frozen and thawed. Freezing the sauerkraut will only enhance the killing of the probiotics but some of them could survive the cold temps by lying dormant. It is worth noting, however, that the lactic acid in sauerkraut could kill probiotics in storage.
Although freezing sauerkraut is a little tricky, it can be done. After all, any type of food can be frozen. Now that you know how can you freeze sauerkraut, you can preserve your favorite side dish and extend its shelf life. Just make sure to keep the extra steps outlined in this post in mind for better results.