How to Reduce the Strong Taste of Sauerkraut

by Fred Decker

    Sauerkraut was a lifesaving winter staple for generations of Europeans, providing not only a full belly but plentiful quantities of healthful vitamins, minerals and fiber. It remains a flavorful and versatile food, much-loved and still made even though fresh vegetables are now available all winter. In its natural state, sauerkraut has a potent flavor and aroma. Cooks can take several steps to reduce its strong taste, whether it's to be served raw or cooked.

    Items you will need

    • Colander
    • Large glass or plastic mixing bowl
    • Apple juice (optional)
    • Heatproof baking dish or casserole
    • White wine, beer, chicken broth or other liquid to taste
    • Apples, onions, peppercorns, bay leaves, juniper berries, caraway seeds or anise seeds (optional)
    Step 1

    Drain your sauerkraut in a colander, and rinse it well with cold running water.

    Step 2

    Taste a few shreds of the kraut. If it's unusually strong-flavored, as some artisanal brands often are, place it in a large glass or plastic mixing bowl. Cover the kraut with water or apple juice and let it soak for 30 minutes. Drain it again, pressing out any excess moisture.

    Step 3

    Place the sauerkraut in a heat-proof baking dish or casserole. Add a small amount of water, white wine, beer, chicken broth or other liquid, depending on your personal taste. Bake the kraut at 275 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit until it's softened and its flavor is deep and mellow.

    Step 4

    Enrich the cooked sauerkraut by adding sliced apples or onions at the beginning of the cooking time to make the kraut sweeter and mellower. Traditional recipes often include other flavorings, including peppercorns, bay leaves, juniper berries and caraway or anise seeds.

    Tips

    • If you plan to use your sauerkraut as a topping on sausages or hot dogs, use it at the end of the soaking and draining stage.
    • For a full traditional meal, add several varieties of fresh and cured meats, such as ham hocks, smoked sausages or duck legs, while the sauerkraut cooks. The sauerkraut tenderizes and flavors the meats, while the meats help mellow and flavor the sauerkraut. Slice the meats and pass them on a tray with the cooked sauerkraut, boiled potatoes and a selection of deli mustards.

    References

    • On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen; Harold McGee
    • The Old World Kitchen: The Rich Tradition of European Peasant Cooking; Elizabeth Luard

    About the Author

    Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer who has written and blogged on food-related topics since 2007. Previously he sold computers, insurance and mutual funds. He is a former columnist for the Saint John, New Brunswick "Telegraph-Journal," and has been published in Canada's "Hospitality and Foodservice" magazine as well as online on many high-profile websites. Decker was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

    Photo Credits

    • Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images