When I googled sauerkraut flavors I got sauerkraut flatulence … a sign from God? I think so.

Posted by Kristin

At the farmer’s market last weekend, I tasted some raw cultured sauerkraut. The sauerkraut is made the traditional way by lacto-fermentation. In case you are wondering, lacto-fermentation happens when friendly bacteria turn the sugars and starches in the vegetable into lactic acid. The resulting product is preserved, develops a sour flavor and contains beneficial bacteria and added vitamins. And get this: most of the sauerkraut you can buy already made isn’t actually cultured—it’s just shredded cabbage that has been pickled in brine. So the stuff I’ve been eating all this time isn’t really sauerkraut. It’s cabbage pickles. The grocery store has been ripping me off for YEARS. I feel violated.

The farmer’s market vendor had several different flavors, which gave us the idea to make our own flavored kraut. I tried googling “sauerkraut flavors” for inspiration and this is what I got:

Needless to say, my HBO on demand doesn’t work right now and I can’t watch all of my new DVRed episodes of Big Love until I watch season 4 episode 6, but that’s not the point I was trying to make. And that point is: obviously, there is a lack of internet content on this particular subject (flavored sauerkraut, not the hopelessness that is Time Warner Cable … although it seems that lots of people want to know about sauerkraut flatulence). So we decided to wing it.

Taking our inspiration from the farmer’s market kraut, we decided to make traditional sauerkraut with caraway seeds, a lemon dill sauerkraut, kimchi and a spicy jalapeño sauerkraut—which Kelly lovingly labeled “Tex Ass.” Sweet isn’t it?

So off to the grocery store we went to collect our ingredients, including eight heads of cabbage. And thanks to our purchase of eight heads of cabbage, we have now been red flagged us as suspected bioterrorists. Well, maybe not, but you never know what you can get in trouble for in this day and age. When we came home, we got to work shredding cabbage and somewhere along the way I realized I had yet another head of cabbage in the refrigerator (who’s counting? that makes nine, y’all). So we threw it into the food processor. Even with the machine doing most of the manual work, it still took a lot of time to shred all that cabbage.

food processor with cabbage

The hardest working food processor in Austin.

And despite Buster’s best efforts to eat up all of the little pieces we dropped on the floor—because in his tiny chihuahua world, anything that falls onto the floor is most likely special and off limits, therefore he should eat it—when we finished shredding, there was cabbage everywhere.

And here’s a picture of the little angel for you to look at while we clean. Isn’t he precious? And chock full of fiber.

We threw the shredded pieces into my giant bowl from the restaurant supply.

bowl of cabbage

Even after adding sea salt and allowing the cabbage to shrink, it wouldn’t all fit in the bowl at once. There was a really good tip on the blog where we found our basic instructionssalt the cabbage until it tastes “pleasantly salty, like french fries.” Not everyone knows how much salt is enough salt for sauerkraut, but everybody knows what a french fry tastes like.

In a smaller bowl, we combined cabbage with flavoring agents and then stuffed each flavored batch into 1 quart canning jars.

The first bowl got the traditional treatment with a tablespoon or two of caraway seeds. We hit the second bowl with some fresh dill, lemon juice and lemon zest. The third bowl got Korean chili powder, green onions, shredded carrots, fresh garlic and ginger. Finally we mixed up our special Tex-Ass sauerkraut with some shredded carrots, green onions, cilantro, hot sauce, cumin, fresh jalapeno, lime juice and a generous pinch of sugar.

flavored sauerkraut in jars

We stuffed the jars and topped each one with a small narrow glass filled with water to press the cabbage down. It’s important that the cabbage stay submerged in juice as it’s fermenting. Cabbage that’s exposed to air is subject to spoiling.

Then we faced a problem… where the heck were we going to put all of these jars? Somewhere dark with a relatively cool and steady temperature. I emptied a cabinet in the hallway and we put them inside, draped with cheesecloth so dust wouldn’t get into the kraut.

Day 1

The cabbage is producing a definite odor. In fact, the odor is so definite, I was pretty sure we needed to get it out of the house before Shawn smelled it and put and end to our kitchen experiments. So we moved it to the garage into one of those giant coolers that is supposed to keep stuff cold while you’re camping for 7 days. Problem solved. It hadn’t even been 24 hours and the cabbage had already produced a significant amount of juice, and was even producing bubbles on its own. Sort of cool, sort of creepy.

Day 2

The smell is really strong. Good thing we put the jars outside. I was pleased to find that there wasn’t any mold floating on top of any of my jars of kraut. If you find mold, you’re supposed to remove it. The idea of nonchalantly removing mold from something I plan to eat later is sort of revolting. I checked the water levels of each jar making sure there was a good amount of brine on top. A few hadn’t produced enough to suit me, so I added a little salty water to them. From this point on, don’t add any more salty water. The water is going to evaporate some from the jars, but the salt will stay behind. So if you need to add more liquid, use fresh water only. I removed the glasses that were sitting on top, packed down the cabbage and replaced the glasses (after rinsing them and refilling them with fresh water). Then I put them back in the cooler.

Day 3

Everything is starting to smell more and more putrid pungent. Sorry y’all. I’m working on using more appetizing words in my posts.

So anyway, lots of smells going on in that cooler. Hopefully that means it’s working.

Day 4

Day 4 is a milestone. Once I tried to make sourdough starter. I cared for it lovingly for 3 days—stirring, feeding, talking to it softly. I kept it in a safe spot on top of my toaster oven. On day four, I decided to bake potatoes in that very toaster oven … at 400 degrees … for an hour. By the time I realized what happened it was too late. My precious little baby starter was dead. Cooked to a crisp. I never attempted another starter or anything else for that matter that requires careful tending and feeding. This is why I don’t grow plants—only dogs and cats—because plants can’t follow you around and go “Hey lady! I’m drying up! How about some water?”

You know if you are at all worried you will forget to check on your little kraut babies, you have got another think coming. Wait until you smell this. Forgetting to check on fermenting cabbage is like forgetting to feed your cat. Your cat will be up your ass chasing you all over the house as you drag yourself out of bed, yowling in your face up to the very moment that you serve his majesty’s breakfast. The sauerkraut is the same way. Every time you walk by, the smell will follow you … it doesn’t let you forget. So today, I added more fresh water to the jars to replace what had evaporated. And again, we wait.

Day 5

I don’t know what’s going on. The jars are practically bubbling over with what I hope is sauerkraut juice. And, maybe I’m just getting used to the smell, but it actually doesn’t smell all that bad to me anymore. Is that bad? Of course, it could smell like skunks and I would never know … because I can’t smell skunks. It’s my super power. Bear with me people! One more day and we will know how this story ends. And considering I have about 14 quarts of possibly skunky cabbage hanging out in my garage, I hope it ends well.

Then again having to actually eat 14 quarts of sauerkraut could be a disaster in itself. I’m probably not going to have many friends when this is all over.

Day 6

When I came home from work and got out of my car the whole garage reeked of sauerkraut. I opened the lid to the cooler to find that my little kraut babies were bubbling over even more. Our Tex Ass kraut was especially bubbly (that’s right … everything is bigger in Texas) one of them had what appeared to be mold on top. (Don’t worry y’all. The mold turned out to be an ugly green onion.) It kind of made me want to pass out so I demanded that Kelly come over to help me deal with it.

sauerkraut scum

After I let the garage air out it wasn’t so bad. I even worked up the nerve to taste one of the traditional ones. It was awesome. It tasted exactly the way I wanted it to taste. I boiled the lids to the jars (as a precaution … Shawn said I was being overcautious) and I screwed them on, storing them away in the fridge. Shawn wants me to mention that he was more than happy to provide me some space for the kraut in his beer fridge that I bought and that I also supply the electricity to. I would just like to take this moment to say, I am floored by his generosity.

kraut in the fridge

Anyway, I guess that’s about the end of flavored Saurkraut 101. Kelly is on the way over—I left the scummy jars for her to deal with. I’ll post an update later on how each of the flavors taste. We’re cooking some dogs to go with our kraut for dinner tonight.


The sauerkraut was great with our hot dogs and beer brats. It was soured just enough and was still very crunchy, which we liked. We cooked some dogs and brats on the grill and then tossed them into a skillet with some Shiner Bock and caramelized onions. Then we served them on toasted buns with lots of kraut.

Later we cooked up some corned beef and made reubens with seedless rye, swiss cheese and kraut. They were pretty awesome.

The kimchi and traditional flavors were almost unanimously the favorites. We stirred some crushed, toasted sesame seeds and a little toasted sesame oil into the kimchi to give it some extra flavor (although, it would have been good without this addition).

The “TexAss” flavor was Shawn’s favorite (he is not a fan of caraway seeds or dill) and it was also the one that soured the least.

I would consider this batch of sauerkraut to be a big success and I would definitely make it again in smaller quantities.

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