Sauerkraut is one of those ingredients which is often included in recipes because of the health benefits it boasts.
This fermented cabbage has a peculiar taste but if you like it, it is an excellent addition for your cupboards as it has a shelf life of 6 months once opened.
But if you do not use sauerkraut that often and don’t want it to go to waste, you can freeze it to make it last longer.
This isn’t exactly an easy process, but this guide will walk you through all the steps you need to take to freeze your sauerkraut, as well as the steps you should take to defrost it when you want to use it next.
How to freeze Sauerkraut
If you decide to freeze your sauerkraut, you should make sure you store it properly. Sauerkraut is packed full of good bacteria which makes it so healthy, and to ensure this bacteria has the best chance of surviving the freezing proper storage is vital.
You can either use an airtight container or plastic bag to store the sauerkraut as long as both receptacles are freezer safe. When filling the bag or container you should ensure you leave a space at the top as the liquid content of sauerkraut will expand once it begins to freeze.
You should also ensure that all air has been removed from the container or bag, that it is properly sealed and air-tight before placing it in your freezer.
Alternatively, you have the option to freeze the sauerkraut in smaller portions. This is a good idea to reduce waste if you only consume a small amount at a time. To do this you can simply fill an ice cube tray with the sauerkraut and place in the freezer.
Once the portions have frozen through you can then transfer them into a container or bag and use as and when necessary.
Once the sauerkraut is placed in your freezer it will be safe to eat for between 8-12 months. This is significantly longer than the 6 months that it would be consumable for in the refrigerator.
How to defrost Sauerkraut
When you decide you want to use the sauerkraut you have frozen you have a few thawing options to choose from. The best option for you will depend on whether you want to use the sauerkraut immediately or if you want to be able to consume it over the next few days.
If you do not want to use the sauerkraut immediately your only option is to thaw it in the refrigerator. To do this you can simply transfer the container or bag from the freezer into the refrigerator and wait for it to defrost. You will then have to consume the sauerkraut within 3-5 days of it thawing.
Should you want to use the sauerkraut immediately after it has thawed you have two options. The better choice for you will depend on how quickly you want to use it.
If you want to be able to use the sauerkraut quickly, you can defrost it in the microwave. This is a simple task to complete and the quickest way to thaw sauerkraut. To do this you should transfer your frozen sauerkraut into a microwavable dish, if necessary, and heat on high power.
You should do this repeatedly for short periods, 20 seconds maximum, and continue until the sauerkraut has thawed thoroughly. Once it has defrosted you should consume it immediately.
Alternatively, if you are in less of a rush you can defrost your sauerkraut on the countertop. To do this you can simply leave the frozen sauerkraut on the kitchen counter and leave it to defrost for a few hours at room temperature.
However, you should constantly check its progress as you will need to consume the sauerkraut immediately after it has defrosted.
If you plan on using the sauerkraut as an ingredient in a cooked dish there is no need to defrost it. You can simply add the required portion while cooking and adjust the cooking time accordingly to the frozen ingredients.
Factors to Consider
As with everything, there are some factors that you should consider before deciding to freeze your sauerkraut.
The major thing to consider is that freezing the sauerkraut is likely to reduce the healthiness of it. Sauerkraut is seen as healthy because it is packed full of healthy bacteria, also known as probiotics.
But just like bad bacteria, good bacteria are also at risk when exposed to extreme temperatures. So by freezing the sauerkraut you could be making it less healthy. However, as long as the sauerkraut is stored properly a small amount of this bacteria should survive.
Freezing sauerkraut is also quite a tricky process. It also only adds a few months extra shelf life. So you should also consider the other options that you could use to preserve your sauerkraut.
The main alternative to freezing is canning, and this can actually prolong the shelf life of sauerkraut by years. This method includes heating the jar which contains the sauerkraut to extreme heat which kills all the bad bacteria. However, similarly to freezing sauerkraut, this also kills all the good bacteria.
Finally, before freezing you should consider the shelf life of sauerkraut. If you are looking to freeze a jar of sauerkraut which you purchased and opened 5 months ago it would also be important to check if the food has already gone bad before you freeze it.
There are 3 signs which will indicate if your sauerkraut has already turned. The first and most obvious is a strong, foul smell as soon as you open the jar. While other signs include discoloration and a strange texture.
If you suspect your sauerkraut has already turned, the task of freezing will do nothing to prolong its shelf life.
Freezing sauerkraut might not be the easiest task, but it can be done. It is a simple way to prolong shelf life while ensuring you always have a portion of sauerkraut available should you want it.
Simply follow the guide above and freezing sauerkraut will be a breeze.