Does Sauerkraut Go Bad?

Sauerkraut has a lot of health benefits from probiotics to containing vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. Because of the health benefits, you may be adding it to your diet and might be wondering how long it lasts. This article will answer that question.

Sauerkraut has a pretty long shelf life before it turns bad. This is due to it being preserved in a saltwater solution. The saltwater brine extends the shelf life of the sauerkraut because the pickling solution helps stop bacterial growth. Improper storage is the leading cause of sauerkraut going bad quickly. Refrigerated sauerkraut can stay fresh for around 4-6 months. Sauerkraut can be stored in the freezer for 8-12 months.


There are a lot of different ways to buy and make sauerkraut and the shelf life and storage technique varies depending on which one you have. Read on to find out how to get the longest life out of your sauerkraut.

Does Sauerkraut Go Bad? How Long Does Sauerkraut Last?

Sauerkraut can be store-bought from the refrigerator section or canned vegetable section. Sauerkraut can also be homemade and is usually stored in jars. All of those factors affect the shelf life.

How Long Does Sauerkraut Last Outside?

The only sauerkraut that should be left out is sauerkraut that is sold unrefrigerated. If you keep it in an airtight container it will last a little longer. If not, it will go dry and flavorless.

If you bought the sauerkraut unrefrigerated and it is unopened, it can last anywhere from 3 to 6 months. You can keep it in a cool dry place such as the pantry.

If you bought the sauerkraut unrefrigerated but it has been opened, it should be used within 5 to 7 days. It does not do well in hot, humid environments.

How Long Does Sauerkraut Last In The Fridge

Sauerkraut that was bought refrigerated should remain refrigerated and can last anywhere from 4 to 6 months whether it has been opened or remains unopened.

If it’s been opened, it needs to be in an airtight container made of either plastic or glass. Glass jars are a popular way to store sauerkraut especially if it is homemade sauerkraut.

Once sauerkraut has been opened, if you take out a couple of forkfuls, make sure whatever sauerkraut remains in the container gets pushed down so it stays covered by the brine. Keeping it covered helps it last longer.

How Long Does Sauerkraut Last In The Freezer?

Sauerkraut can be kept in the freezer for about 8 to 12 months. If it has been constantly frozen at 0°F, it can be safe to eat indefinitely.

Since sauerkraut has such a long shelf life in the refrigerator, most people only freeze sauerkraut when they have an abundance of it that will not be eaten in a reasonable amount of time.

You can freeze cooked sauerkraut. Cooking and freezing it will likely kill all of the probiotics. Once cooked, frozen, then thawed, it needs to be used immediately or discarded. Don’t refreeze it.

Since sauerkraut comes in so many different containers with different ways to store it, being knowledgeable about it is the best way to get the longest life from your sauerkraut.

How To Tell If Sauerkraut Has Gone Bad/How To Tell If Sauerkraut Is Fresh

The best way to tell if your sauerkraut is fresh is to judge it based on the purchase date, best by date, or date on when you canned it. There are things to watch out for that are a sign your sauerkraut has gone bad and should be thrown out.

Smell it: Good sauerkraut should smell sour, similar to vinegar. If the smell is off or smells like it’s rotting, it has gone bad and should be thrown out.

Check the texture: Good sauerkraut should be firm. If the texture has changed or dried out it could be bad. This is a tricky part because if some cabbage has been left out of the brine, it could dry out. If that is the case, remove the top layer and what is underneath should be alright to eat.

How does it look?: Fresh sauerkraut should look firm and the bright green of the cabbage should fade to a pale white. There are different colors of mold that can grow on sauerkraut. If the mold is a greenish or grayish color, you can scrape it off and enjoy what’s left. If the mold is black or pink, dump the whole thing.

Taste it: If you’re unsure, taste the sauerkraut. If it doesn’t taste as it should, err on the side of caution and throw it out.

How To Store Sauerkraut

The best way to store sauerkraut is in the refrigerator. The cold helps stop bacterial growth and reduce the possibility of spoilage. Read on to see how it should be stored in the refrigerator.

What type of container did it come in: If the sauerkraut came in a glass container, you can store it in that. If it came in a tin can or a plastic bag, you should transfer it to a glass container or jar, or plastic container with an airtight seal.

Keep it submerged in brine: While in the fridge, it is still important for all of the sauerkraut to remain about a ½ inch under the brine. If there is not enough brine in the jar, add some filtered water to cover the sauerkraut.

Can You Freeze Sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut can be frozen and if done correctly, it can last almost indefinitely. Keep reading to see how to store sauerkraut.

Do so in small batches: Don’t freeze a large batch of sauerkraut in the same bag or container. It should be divided into single-serving portions. This is to help with the defrosting process.

Use bags: If the sauerkraut is in a jar, transfer it to a plastic bag or plastic container that can be used in the freezer.

Use a little less liquid: Reducing the liquids helps maintain the quality of the vegetable when the sauerkraut is thawed out.

Leave some space: Leave some space in the bag because the liquid in the sauerkraut will expand with frozen. Before you place the bag in the freezer, squeeze out as much air as you possibly can. If you have a vacuum sealer, that would be a great option to help store sauerkraut.

How To Thaw Sauerkraut

Thawing out sauerkraut is pretty simple and there are a few ways to do it.

Defrost it in the refrigerator: Move it from the freezer to the fridge the night before you want to use it. This method will let the sauerkraut for 3 to 5 days.

Defrost it in the microwave: Place it in the microwave and heat in 10-20 second increments until defrosted. If you use this method, the sauerkraut should be used right away.

Defrost on the countertop: Place the package of sauerkraut on the countertop for a few hours depending on the size of the bag.

Defrost it in cold water: Place the package of sauerkraut in a sink of cold water and use immediately when ready.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sauerkraut’s Shelf Life

If you still have questions about sauerkraut and how long it lasts, see the answers to some frequently asked questions.

Why does my homemade sauerkraut have fizz/bubbles?

Why does my homemade sauerkraut have fizz/bubbles? When you are fermenting your cabbage in the saltwater brine, it may produce some gases. Those gases then push their way out of the packed sauerkraut. This will result in bubbles in the jar and possibly a bulging lid.  This is a perfectly normal side effect of unpasteurized sauerkraut and is most likely to appear in the first 2-4 days of the fermentation process.

Does freezing sauerkraut kill the probiotics? Sauerkraut has trillions of probiotics which are beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion and promote health. Probiotics are sensitive to temperature and many may die from being frozen. Some of the good bacteria could survive by lying dormant but cooking once frozen sauerkraut will likely kill all of the probiotics.

Wrap-Up

Sauerkraut can be made at home or bought at the store canned, bagged, or refrigerated. I hope you now have the confidence to tell fresh vs. bad sauerkraut and how to store it properly to ensure you get the longest life out of it.

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