A sauerkraut recipes round-up that covers the essential ways to enjoy sauerkraut.
A Few Tips on Sauerkraut as a Recipe Ingredient
Sauerkraut is made by pickling shredded raw cabbage, hence its name – sour cabbage in direct translation from German (sauer = sour and kraut = cabbage).
There are two types of souring methods.
Naturally fermented sauerkraut where the fermentable sugars contained in the leaves are transformed by bacteria and a sour lactic acid is released. This method is used exclusively in Germany, France and Eastern Europe and is also known as lacto-fermented kraut. The shredded cabbage is simply packed with salt and water and the rest is left to the work of the lacto-bacteria.
Vinegar soured sauerkraut is pickled with a vinegar based brine solution and tasted much harsher. It also lacks the health benefits of lacto-fermentation. This method is primarily used in the US.
While the strong acidity of vinegar pickled sauerkraut is not a huge problem when you are simply topping a bratwurst, when it comes to cooking with sauerkraut where larger quantities of it are used, it is generally better to choose the naturally fermented kind. If you can find the Bavarian variety – even better.
Most Compatible Ingredients
Over time certain foods have earned the designation of usual suspects as far as compatibility with sauerkraut is concerned.
Pork is by far the best red meat to use with sauerkraut but other smoked meats and smoked sausage have a strong affinity for it as well – including bacon, smoked chicken and smoked turkey.
Potatoes, onions, leeks and apples are most frequently used in recipes featuring sauerkraut while spices such as caraway, bay leaf, paprika, pepper traditionally flavor it.
Sauerkraut Starters & Sides
Sauerkraut Salad with Apples & Leeks – crisp and healthful, this salad is an excellent choice when the consumption of probiotics is a key goal in addition to the enjoyment of sauerkraut’s pleasant tanginess. Recipe here.
Beer Braised Sauerkraut – a great side to grilled brats, roasted pork knuckles or pork steaks. Simply simmer sauerkraut with a bit of beer, beef broth and brown sugar (to taste). Medium heat, for about 6-10 minutes.
Baked Potatoes & Sauerkraut – a vegetarian (or not if bacon is used) side dish. Boil potatoes, peel and cut in bite size pieces. Place in a greased baking dish along with sauerkraut and optional bacon strips (first cook the bacon half way for some of the fat to be rendered). Bake at 350 F for 10 to 20 minutes depending on the quantity.
Sauerkraut Mashed Potatoes – in a sauce pan warm up sauerkraut with a knob of butter, then fold into hot mashed potatoes. About 1 cup of warmed sauerkraut to every 3 cups of mash.
Baked Pork and Sauerkraut – some say the eating pork with sauerkraut on New Year’s Day brings good luck. Whether it does or doesn’t has no impact on the fact that the combination is simply delicious. Use pork chops or a pork shoulder roast. (Psst. Portioning the meat before you bake shortens the cooking time and makes serving easier). Recipe here.
Sauerkraut & Sausage Skillet with Apples and Onions – make this one with your favorite German smoked sausage or use Polish kielbasa. Easy, with nicely balanced flavor profile. A bit of malty German lager such as doppelbock or dunkel added to the skillet helps marry all the flavors together (optional). Recipe coming up.
Sauerkraut Juice – reserve the juice after you drain sauerkraut. Consumed in small quantities daily it can boost your gut health and good mood on account of the probiotics it contains.
From hearty sauerkraut soup to sauerkraut martini this recipe collection covers the best ways to enjoy sauerkraut.