I just finished fishing the last bits of yummy fermented sauerkraut out of the jar, and I'm left with about a half jar of juice. What should I do with it? Drink it? Throw some new veggies in there? Or just dispose of it because it was just a carrier for the kraut? I've seen the juice canned at the store before, so I'm guessing it has got to be good for something if it is marketable.
A couple things I do with both pickle juice and sauerkraut juice.
Use them in place of whey in all the recipes from Nourishing Traditions. (E.g., in homemade mayonnaise or ketchup.) They can start lacto-fermentation as well as whey can, and for me they are more convenient (since I don't make cheese or anything).
Peel a bunch of cloves of garlic and drop them in the jar of pickle/sauerkraut juice. Leave at room temp for a few days before transferring to the fridge: pickled garlic. Yum.
You should never "back-slop" sauerkraut. In other words, do not use sauerkraut juice as a starter for the next batch. The cabbage leaves already have enough bacteria to start the fermentation; backslopping just interferes with the normal population dynamics and causes your sauerkraut to skip some of the earlier steps. The sauerkraut juice comes from the late-stage sauerkraut and is full of acid-loving bacteria, but your new sauerkraut hasn't gone through the steps to create that acidic environment yet.
Most of the recipes from Nourishing Traditions regards ferments are just flat out wrong. It's naive to toss in a cup of whey whenever you are fermenting something just because the whey has bacteria and the substrate needs bacteria. Better to understand the fermentation process, the population dynamics of the particular ferment you are attempting, and the best way to get the correct culture for that ferment into the substrate. Whey is useful in limited situations, while sauerkraut tastes best when wild-fermented. (There is actually science to prove this if anybody is interested.)
According to a lot of sources on the webz, the juice is a wonderful digestive tonic, and i'm pretty sure it has other benefits.
I'd also use part of the juice for the next batch. Besides speeding up the fermentation process it'll also help keep unwanted bacteria/fungi away from the cabbage because it contains a lot of good bacteria.
Boil up some bratwurst in the leftover juice, use it in a slow cooker with some apples and pork, or use it as part of a stock for soups/stews.
God, I'm making myself hungry. I'm German, and all of this talk of sauerkraut makes me crave some of my Oma's cooking something fierce.
One time I felt a sore throat coming on, so I gargled a bunch of sauerkraut juice and then chugged the rest. Besides being delicious, it seemed to have completely stopped my sore throat dead in its tracks.
How long does it keep?
One Naturopathic doctor gave us a recipe if you have the flu and are throwing up. He said a tablespoon of sauerkraut juice and a tablespoon of tomato juice every 20 minutes for two hours. That combination will kill any bug in the stomach. If you are giving it to kids then only a teaspoon of each instead of a tablespoon.
I use a small amount of mine in place of apple cider vinegar for marinades. I also drink it. I recommend Bubbie's brand...so delicious and only water is used for the fermentation.
I use it instead of vinegar in my vinaigrette. Add freshly crushed garlic and salt. Keep in fridge or cupboard. When making salad, put 1 to 2 TBS in the bottom of the salad bowl, mix in twice as much EVOO. Put salad ingredients on top. Toss salad just before serving.
But I still have too much skj and pickled veggie juice, so thank you all who responded. I am going to defrost that pork roast and marinate it in my extra skj! And I'm going to pickle some lovely broccoli I just got from an organic farm using the rest of my skj, and I won't have to use the kefir starter! Saving $$!