Does Sauerkraut Go Bad?

Sauerkraut is a finely chopped cabbage that has been pickled in brine. It was created as a way to store an extra cabbage throughout the winter. Sauerkraut is fermented by various lactic acid bacteria and it has a long shelf life. It is known that the fermented cabbage product is rich in vitamin C and it is more digestible than fresh cabbage.

Also, sauerkraut helps you to digest some other foods much easier. But, the most important benefit of sauerkraut is that it lasts a long time if you store it properly. In this article you will find out more about sauerkraut and its shelf life. Also, we will discuss how to store it properly and how to tell if the sauerkraut has gone bad.

The Shelf Life and The Storage of Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a pickled food and it can last for a long time if you provide optimal conditions for its storage. If it is properly fermented, sauerkraut needs to start at room temperature for about a week and then it should be stored in the fridge.  If you keep sauerkraut in the fridge it can last for several months. If you want to store sauerkraut for longer period of time, then you should set the temperature in the fridge to at least 36 degrees F. It is also important to store the sauerkraut in a container that has been sealed tightly.

The quality of the sauerkraut depends on how it is stored in the fridge. It is important to be sure that sauerkraut is fully immersed in the brine, in order to prevent the oxidation of the sauerkraut. Also, it is important to avoid storing the sauerkraut in a jar with a metal lid, because metal that is exposed to sauerkraut can easily rust. You should also know that a vinegar-based sauerkraut can last for months, while the sauerkraut made with salt brine and fats or meat juices will probably spoil much faster.

How To Tell if Sauerkraut Has Gone Bad?

If you store the sauerkraut in the fridge, probably it will not go bad quickly, but some changes are possible, such as darkened color of the sauerkraut. Sauerkraut becomes darkened because it is exposed to air or because it is stored above the brine. In this case, you should only remove the darkened sauerkraut and you can safely eat the rest of it.

Also, if a white scum has formed on the top of the liquid, you should know that it is not harmful. This white scum is a harmless natural yeast and you should discard it, but your sauerkraut is still good to use. But, if you notice some other changes, such as bad smell of the sauerkraut or if its texture gets soft or slimy, you should throw the sauerkraut out immediately. Remember that people can easily get sick from spoiled pickles. But, there are some kinds of sauerkraut that naturally lose some of the flavor and some of their crunch. This is the case with a wine sauerkraut. Its flavors normally dissipate over time.

What To Do With a Large Amount of Sauerkraut?

If you have bought a bag of sauerkraut that you can’t eat in one meal or that you will not eat even within a few months, then you should freeze it. Freezing the sauerkraut is one of the ways to keep it fresh for a long time. You should only put the sauerkraut in a freezer bag or in some other freezer container and to store it for later use. When you want to use the sauerkraut from the freezer, you should only defrost it in the fridge and your sauerkraut is ready for use.


As you have seen, if you store the sauerkraut properly in the fridge, it will last for several months. But, you should always keep an eye on the color of the sauerkraut and you should notice if there are any changes in its smell.

Sometimes, you can only remove the harmless yeast from the sauerkraut, but sometimes it is necessary to toss the sauerkraut out. Remember that spoiled foods can cause many health problems, so you should be careful and avoid them.