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Sauerkraut juice: Drink it or dump it?

by (24538)
Updated about 12 hours ago
Created August 30, 2011 at 8:17 AM

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.

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3499 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

The acids in the kraut juice make sausages (and probably other meats) incredibly tender when slow cooked. My (mostly German) mom once inadvertently left kielbasa in sauerkraut in a low oven for hours. It was indescribably lush when done.

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54 · April 19, 2013 at 10:49 PM

Dave, is this the Sandor Katz way? Do you have a link to this in more detail. Thanks

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24538 · April 15, 2013 at 8:58 PM

I'm not worried about the salt content, and actually rely on it because I ended up with far too little salt in my diet when I started paleo, and ended up fainting from low blood pressure a few times.

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8065 · April 15, 2013 at 8:57 PM

I wouldn't drink very much sauerkraut juice straight because it is pretty salty, but adding it to other things and reducing the salt in those things accordingly is fine. I've heard it makes a good addition to bone broth, but if the broth is too hot, you're going to kill the beneficial bacteria anyway.

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45 · April 15, 2013 at 7:14 PM

By the way my vote for what to do with the left-over juice is "drink it"! It's delicious and oh! so healthful!

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24538 · January 08, 2013 at 5:37 AM

That sounds crazy awesome!

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609 · September 24, 2012 at 5:26 AM

I drink the liquid from my cooked meats with added salt, makes it taste like soup liquid. Yummy when it's hot!

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24538 · February 04, 2012 at 3:55 AM

No plans on drinking the whole thing, more like a shot glass worth. As with all things pickled, I believe in moderation.

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1169 · February 03, 2012 at 9:39 PM

great question!

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24538 · February 03, 2012 at 8:41 PM

I saw that on the show. I had never heard of a pickle back before, but I was drooling by the end of the segment. I'm gonna try that with sauerkraut juice one of these days.

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1680 · February 03, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Cool! We grew over 200 heads of garlic this last summer, so we have lots of garlic for experiments like this one. Yay!

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1571 · February 03, 2012 at 7:00 PM

air_hadoken - Just out of curiosity, but how does one inadvertently leave kielbasa in sauerkraut? Or was that on purpose and the many hours it was left was the accident? Could this deliciousness be recreated in a crock pot?

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24538 · January 05, 2012 at 7:38 AM

You rock! Doesn't it get to be a bit too salty though?

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24538 · December 20, 2011 at 12:01 AM

I'm not sure how long it keeps, especially after the cabbage is gone, I would assume the bacteria need food.

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24538 · September 01, 2011 at 10:04 AM

I've read mixed things about using it as a starter for the next batch, but most recipes I've read said to start from scratch with just salt and water. Does the old juice impart weird flavors in the new batch?

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24538 · September 01, 2011 at 10:02 AM

A lot of good ideas here, but you win because I happen to have four heads of garlic sitting on the counter right now, and shall make some pickled garlic tomorrow. Sounds yummy!

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597 · August 30, 2011 at 10:48 PM

Kielbasa and sauerkraut is heavenly!

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24538 · August 30, 2011 at 10:16 PM

This was a jar of Bubbies. I've tried making my own with mixed results, so I've been indulging in store bought until I figure out a better recipe.

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4991 · August 30, 2011 at 8:51 PM

Brilliant idea! I shall try this.....! Thanks.

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4991 · August 30, 2011 at 8:50 PM

I have only once added the juice from the previous sauerkraut to the next lot - and I REALLY didn't like the result. I prefer to make Kraut with salt only - and drink / add to soup etc any remaining juice. I add the juice to soup etc as a condiment, after it is served out, so as not to kill the bennificial bugs by cooking them....

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12369 · August 30, 2011 at 5:11 PM

how did you make the saurkraut - I've been looking for a good recipe - but just cna't trust the ones online without personal experience backing it up!

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1453 · August 30, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Jan, this seems to be the reason I can't find any fresh sauerkraut in Germany ;) I want my sauerkraut back!

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78417 · August 30, 2011 at 1:07 PM

wonderful idea. i also have some sauerkraut. here i will try it too. thanks

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5853 · August 30, 2011 at 9:58 AM

http://www.wildfermentation.com/

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5853 · August 30, 2011 at 9:42 AM

I just do sauerkraut and dil pickles (cucumber), have to try something else too. I found a german clay sauerkraut pot from local flea market. I wonder how it came all this way to finland. :)

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24538 · August 30, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Mmm...sounds good. Any favorites? I was thinking carrots might be good.

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22 Answers

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2226 · August 30, 2011 at 4:43 PM

A couple things I do with both pickle juice and sauerkraut juice.

  1. 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).

  2. 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.

B525b3e4b1d6f1cdceec943cdec6eb7d
1680 · February 03, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Cool! We grew over 200 heads of garlic this last summer, so we have lots of garlic for experiments like this one. Yay!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
24538 · September 01, 2011 at 10:02 AM

A lot of good ideas here, but you win because I happen to have four heads of garlic sitting on the counter right now, and shall make some pickled garlic tomorrow. Sounds yummy!

4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921
4991 · August 30, 2011 at 8:51 PM

Brilliant idea! I shall try this.....! Thanks.

best answer

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45 · April 15, 2013 at 7:13 PM

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.)

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54 · April 19, 2013 at 10:49 PM

Dave, is this the Sandor Katz way? Do you have a link to this in more detail. Thanks

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45 · April 15, 2013 at 7:14 PM

By the way my vote for what to do with the left-over juice is "drink it"! It's delicious and oh! so healthful!

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597 · August 30, 2011 at 11:36 AM

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.

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3499 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

The acids in the kraut juice make sausages (and probably other meats) incredibly tender when slow cooked. My (mostly German) mom once inadvertently left kielbasa in sauerkraut in a low oven for hours. It was indescribably lush when done.

C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858
1571 · February 03, 2012 at 7:00 PM

air_hadoken - Just out of curiosity, but how does one inadvertently leave kielbasa in sauerkraut? Or was that on purpose and the many hours it was left was the accident? Could this deliciousness be recreated in a crock pot?

351cbf133b44fb7a1b90781e148d28d7
597 · August 30, 2011 at 10:48 PM

Kielbasa and sauerkraut is heavenly!

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1159 · August 30, 2011 at 9:09 AM

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.

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24538 · September 01, 2011 at 10:04 AM

I've read mixed things about using it as a starter for the next batch, but most recipes I've read said to start from scratch with just salt and water. Does the old juice impart weird flavors in the new batch?

4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921
4991 · August 30, 2011 at 8:50 PM

I have only once added the juice from the previous sauerkraut to the next lot - and I REALLY didn't like the result. I prefer to make Kraut with salt only - and drink / add to soup etc any remaining juice. I add the juice to soup etc as a condiment, after it is served out, so as not to kill the bennificial bugs by cooking them....

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7660 · August 30, 2011 at 3:44 PM

You can also use it in salad dressings.

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5853 · August 30, 2011 at 8:55 AM

yes throw some veggies in there with salt.

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1453 · August 30, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Jan, this seems to be the reason I can't find any fresh sauerkraut in Germany ;) I want my sauerkraut back!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78417 · August 30, 2011 at 1:07 PM

wonderful idea. i also have some sauerkraut. here i will try it too. thanks

44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154
5853 · August 30, 2011 at 9:58 AM

http://www.wildfermentation.com/

44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154
5853 · August 30, 2011 at 9:42 AM

I just do sauerkraut and dil pickles (cucumber), have to try something else too. I found a german clay sauerkraut pot from local flea market. I wonder how it came all this way to finland. :)

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24538 · August 30, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Mmm...sounds good. Any favorites? I was thinking carrots might be good.

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50 · December 19, 2011 at 5:50 PM

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.

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24538 · December 20, 2011 at 12:01 AM

I'm not sure how long it keeps, especially after the cabbage is gone, I would assume the bacteria need food.

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4620 · August 30, 2011 at 3:41 PM

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.

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60 · February 03, 2012 at 6:08 PM

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 $$!

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38 · January 08, 2013 at 2:15 AM

This might sound crazy but I mix a shot of sauerkraut juice with seltzer water to make it more of a cocktail and sip it like a regular drink.

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24538 · January 08, 2013 at 5:37 AM

That sounds crazy awesome!

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30 · September 23, 2012 at 8:50 PM

sauerkraut juice is commonly drunk in Belgium Hollanand Germany as well in Scandinavia.it is anin excellent detox tonic and a very good natural laxative. Many fasting regimes in Germany Holland and Belgium call for sauerkraut juice to be drunk on the first day to start detox and beet juice to be drunk on the second day to purify the blood. Anyway it is not at all uncommon to drink sauerkraut juice but we Americans are unfamiliar with it. Do be careful if you drink too much - you will probably spend the afternoon on the toilet but that might not actually be a bad thing if you're trying to detox.

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30 · January 05, 2012 at 7:27 AM

I can drink the juice all day, who needs 8 cups of water when you have pickle juice.

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609 · September 24, 2012 at 5:26 AM

I drink the liquid from my cooked meats with added salt, makes it taste like soup liquid. Yummy when it's hot!

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24538 · January 05, 2012 at 7:38 AM

You rock! Doesn't it get to be a bit too salty though?

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7592 · August 30, 2011 at 11:41 AM

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.

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11683 · February 03, 2012 at 8:14 PM

Rachel Maddow recently made a Pickle Back on Jimmy Fallon - pickle juice and whiskey. I know booze isn't Paleo, but maybe you could sub in the sauerkraut juice instead!

http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/06/10006306-late-night-pickle-backs-with-jimmy-fallon

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24538 · February 03, 2012 at 8:41 PM

I saw that on the show. I had never heard of a pickle back before, but I was drooling by the end of the segment. I'm gonna try that with sauerkraut juice one of these days.

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3217 · August 30, 2011 at 9:16 PM

We keep the sauerkraut juice from a jar of Bubbie's in the fridge and I periodically fill a shot glass and suck it down. Yum!

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10 · July 24, 2013 at 8:11 AM

I like adding it to soup after it's cooled a little bit or to rice to aid in its fermentation. I add it to pretty much anything, really. I do repurpose it sometimes for another batch of fermented vegetables and I've always had good results with this. It yields differently than a wild ferment but I like variety so whatevs. I swish and swallow with a bit of it before brushing my teeth and going to bed sometimes.

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10 · April 19, 2013 at 10:06 PM

Hmmm I am an Emergency Medicine physician and have never had any patients come in from such a dare though that does not mean it will not happen. Anectdottally speaking, I drank a whole jar of the remnant juice from my Bubbies about six hours ago. I did so reasoning it would not have much affect on me bc I have on two occassions consummed the entire jar including the juices over about two days on each occassion without any noted affect except sometimes when I would take a swallow and inhaled at the same time I would sort of choke or cough. My wife has the same phenomenom occur when she does. This appears to only occur when the juice is left in since it does not occur if you strain and rinse the sauerkraut. Not wanting to lose the preceious beneficial bacteria I no longer rinse and just strained today. Well within two hours of drinking the juice, I notice some profound gurgling and the demanding call of nature hailing me to the bathroom where I experienced diarrhea without cramps and nothing uncomfortable. I feel fine now but agree that the uninitiated should imbibe with small quantities on this valuable tonic until perhaps they and their gastro-intestinal tracts are better acquainted to Sauerkraut juice. An interesting area I am intrigued with is the protective effect the probiotic bacteria within fermented foods would have agains EColi, salmonella, Campylobacter bacteria. There was a fascinating article in the New Yorker I recently read that alluded to comments by VERY forward thinking Infectious Disease physicians who predicted that in the future physicians may very well be writing less prescriptions for antibiotics and instead writing prescriptions for bacteria to be ingested/administered for their efficacious clinical benefit. Google "Germs ar US" and New Yorker and you should find it if interested. Sean OMara

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467 · February 03, 2012 at 11:23 PM

I would drink it if it was full of probiotics. I bought a canned one, which says pasteurized. I assume that means no probiotics left at all? I bought it hoping that there is something good still left in it, and because of not being ready to start fermenting things at home...

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11557 · February 03, 2012 at 9:38 PM

Repurpose it, but don't drink it straight up, or a whole bunch at one time! Sounds funny, but you'd be surprised how many stories my mom has as an emergency room nurse of young guys from college who would drink a whole jar of some kind of pickling or fermenting juice on a dare. They get severely dehydrated, experience unbearable cramping, and can get induced arrhythmia's. I assume you weren't going to chug it, but just saying, if you get the hankering probably avoid it.

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24538 · February 04, 2012 at 3:55 AM

No plans on drinking the whole thing, more like a shot glass worth. As with all things pickled, I believe in moderation.

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0 · July 31, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Love the raw sauerkraut juice from EATProbiotics - packed with probiotics and 100% organic is great

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2506 · April 15, 2013 at 8:37 PM

Yes, sauerkraut juice tastes awesome. But I worry about all that salt. When I make sauerkraut with only one head of cabbage I typically use 5 teaspoons of salt. I believe the RDA for salt (sodium chloride) is about one teaspoon daily, with the average American consuming at least twice that. Although since starting Paleo my salt consumption is low (probably no more than 1 teaspoon per day) I fear the salt in sauerkraut juice might cancel out the goodness of the probiotics. And so sadly, I dump out excess sauerkraut juice.

_Lazza

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24538 · April 15, 2013 at 8:58 PM

I'm not worried about the salt content, and actually rely on it because I ended up with far too little salt in my diet when I started paleo, and ended up fainting from low blood pressure a few times.

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8065 · April 15, 2013 at 8:57 PM

I wouldn't drink very much sauerkraut juice straight because it is pretty salty, but adding it to other things and reducing the salt in those things accordingly is fine. I've heard it makes a good addition to bone broth, but if the broth is too hot, you're going to kill the beneficial bacteria anyway.

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4632 · February 03, 2012 at 11:12 PM

I drink it as I go with eating the sauerkraut from my homemade brew, so there is never more juice left.

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