Does Sauerkraut Go Bad? How Long Do They Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on December 20th, 2022

Is it possible for sauerkraut to go bad? How can you determine whether Sauerkraut has gone bad in the first place and whether it is safe to eat? Here’s a quick primer.

Do you enjoy pickled cabbage and recently purchased a huge jar of sauerkraut? Do you want to know how to keep it so you can enjoy it for a long time?

man in black shirt sitting beside brown wooden table

Now for the good news.

Sauerkraut is made out of cabbage and brine. Brine is made out of three ingredients: sugar, salt, and vinegar. They aid in fermentation and extend the shelf life of sauerkraut.

If you create it at home and preserve it properly, it may last for over a year. To make it last longer, manufacturers add chemicals, fake tastes, and colors.

Is this to say that sauerkraut never goes bad? No, it does not.

Sauerkraut can rot if there is no pickle solution to keep it fresh.

What exactly is sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut is a pickled meal that is simply a pickled cabbage that gains its distinct flavor during the fermentation process. Sauerkraut is a delicious side dish that goes well with a variety of meals and is strong in important vitamins and nutritional fiber.

Furthermore, because sauerkraut is a fermented food, it contains bacteria that can help with digestion. Fermentation also assists digestion. So kraut is brine-fermented cabbage (shredded cabbage).

The brine required to produce fermented sauerkraut, like other fermented vegetables, is part of the fermentation process. Unpasteurized sauerkraut becomes edible as a result of the fermentation. Fermenting is a method of increasing good bacteria while decreasing harmful bacteria.

If produced correctly, homemade sauerkraut may be a delightful veggie. In mine, I like to use a red cabbage leaf. Beneficial microorganisms aid with digestion.

Is Sauerkraut Truly Beneficial to One’s Health?

Sauerkraut is a popular fermented food with several health advantages, including:

It Is Very Nutritious

One of the numerous advantages of sauerkraut is that it is high in nutrients. Sauerkraut has the following nutrients in 142 grams:

  • 1 gram protein
  • 4 gram fiber
  • Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • 0 gram of fat
  • 27 calories
  • Copper accounts for 15% of the DV.
  • Folate: 9% of the daily value
  • Manganese accounts about 9% of the DV.
  • Iron: 12% of the daily value
  • Vitamin K1: 15% of the daily value
  • Vitamin C: 23% of the daily value
  • Sodium: 41% of the daily value

It is extremely healthful since the meal is fermented properly. The microbe on the cabbage tends to digest the natural sugars and convert them into organic acids during the process. Furthermore, the fermentation process creates an environment that supports beneficial bacterial development (probiotics), which are present in products such as yogurt.

Improves Your Immune System

Sauerkraut is high in minerals and probiotics, which can help enhance the immune system. The microorganisms in your stomach might have an effect on your immune system. Sauerkraut includes probiotics, which assist to balance the microorganisms in the stomach. This contributes to the health of your gut lining. It aids in preventing undesirable components from entering the body and triggering an immunological response.

Enhances Digestion

It is estimated that the stomach contains more than 100 trillion microbes. This is more than ten times the total number of cells in the body. Probiotics are good bacteria that function as a powerful barrier against dangerous bacteria in unpasteurized sauerkraut.

They can also help with digestion and overall health. Such probiotics in sauerkraut can aid in restoring the bacterial equilibrium in the gut after it has been disrupted by antibiotic usage. It has the potential to prevent or minimize antibiotic-induced diarrhea.

Aids in Stress Reduction and Brain Health

Although your mood influences what you eat, the opposite is also true. The food you consume has a big influence on your mood and cognitive function. The bacteria in your stomach may have the power to convey messages to your brain, influencing how your brain operates and perceives the environment.

Could Aid in Weight Loss

Consuming sauerkraut may help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Sauerkraut is high in fiber and low in calories, which is one of the reasons. The high fiber content keeps you feeling fuller for a longer period of time. It may assist you in lowering your total calorie consumption. As a result, probiotic content may aid in weight loss.

Sauerkraut (unpasteurized vs. pasteurized) vs.

On the market, there are two types of sauerkraut: unpasteurized and pasteurized.

The fundamental difference between the two is that the first is raw and alive, with a plethora of probiotics, whereas the second is cooked, with the majority of the probiotics dead.

And, because the first one is alive and fermenting, it must be refrigerated so that it does not ferment too much and become too sour.

The fermentation process in pasteurized sauerkraut has been halted by applying heat, and as a result, there are no active bacteria. That is, as long as the can or jar is unopened, no refrigeration is required.

That’s why you’ll find some sauerkraut in the fridge and the rest on the shelf.

(Some goods fall somewhere in the middle.) They aren’t totally pasteurized, but they don’t need to be refrigerated. Fortunately, the majority of kraut on the market is either one or the other.)

Choose refrigerated sauerkraut if you want to get the health advantages.

With the knowledge that there are two forms of sauerkraut: unpasteurized (sold refrigerated) and pasteurized (shelf-stable), let’s look at deterioration, shelf life, and storage for both.

Is Sauerkraut Perishable?

Pasteurized sauerkraut only lasts about a week after opening and quickly spoils.

Unpasteurized sauerkraut, on the other hand, may be refrigerated and kept immersed in brine for months after opening. However, the quality will eventually decline.

In other words, pasteurized sauerkraut spoils rapidly, but unpasteurized sauerkraut does not, given adequate storage.

Of course, if you don’t keep your unpasteurized sauerkraut correctly, it might rapidly dry out or mold. That is why it is critical to take proper care of it.

Before we get into indicators of rotting, let’s go through a handful of things that may seem strange at first but are entirely typical for unpasteurized sauerkraut.

The phrase “hot-packed” is often used instead of the word “pasteurized.” It all boils down to the same thing.

What might happen to Unpasteurized Sauerkraut 

Unpasteurized sauerkraut, as you may know, includes live organisms. This has various ramifications.

Bubbles and fizz

It’s usual for refrigerated sauerkraut to be fizzy and bubbling after opening. The continuous fermentation produces a buildup of CO2 gas, which has nowhere to escape due to the cover. Because you removed the cover, the CO2 buildup may now be expelled, resulting in bubbles.

This is also why some manufacturers include release valves on their containers.

(In case you’re wondering, the same thing happens with champagne.)

Lid gets bulgy

As previously stated, gas accumulation can occasionally cause the lid to swell, which is normal. It’s not frequent, so don’t be alarmed if it occurs to you.

Unscrewing the Lid Is Difficult

The last result of CO2 accumulation in unpasteurized sauerkraut is that the lid may be difficult to remove if it is jarred.

Here are two approaches you may use to ultimately crack open the jar:

  • Allow the jar to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. It may ease some of the pressure and allow you to enter.
  • For a few seconds, run the edge of the lid under warm water. As previously stated, we use temperature change to aid in the release of pressure.

The taste varies across batches.

Because refrigerated sauerkraut is alive, each batch is somewhat different. So don’t be shocked if this container tastes a little different from the prior one. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about it.

Let’s speak about storage signals now that you know what’s safe for refrigerated kraut.

If your fermented cabbage is pasteurized and exhibits one of these symptoms, it is very probably contaminated. You should double-check the brand’s website’s FAQ area for confirmation.

How Long Sauerkraut Lasts

Your jar of sauerkraut will have a best-by date, which is normally 6 months after manufacturing. This is the time to consume your sauerkraut if you want to appreciate it at its peak quality.

However, your sauerkraut will most likely be safe to eat beyond this time. Here are some general guidelines:

Unopened, refrigerated sauerkraut should keep for at least 6 months after the expiration date.

Sauerkraut that has been opened and refrigerated will keep for 6 months.

Unopened, unrefrigerated sauerkraut will keep for 3-6 months beyond the expiration date.

Unrefrigerated, unsealed sauerkraut has a shelf life of about 5-7 days.

Sauerkraut (unpasteurized, unopened) Sell-by + 3+ months
Sauerkraut (unpasteurized, open) 4-6+ months
Sauerkraut (pasteurized, unopened)Best-by + 3-6 months 
Sauerkraut (pasteurized, open) 5 – 7 days

Please keep in mind that the times shown above are simply approximations and are intended to provide the greatest possible quality.

How Long Will Sauerkraut Last Outside?

The only sauerkraut that should be avoided is unrefrigerated sauerkraut. It will stay a bit longer if you keep it in an airtight container. Otherwise, it will become dry and flavorless.

If you buy the sauerkraut unrefrigerated and unopened, it will keep for 3 to 6 months. You may store it in a cold, dry location, such as the pantry.

If the sauerkraut was purchased unrefrigerated but opened, it should be consumed within 5 to 7 days. It does not thrive in hot, humid climates.

How Long Will Sauerkraut Last In The Fridge?

Sauerkraut purchased chilled should be kept refrigerated and can last anywhere from 4 to 6 months, whether opened or unopened.

If it has been opened, it must be stored in an airtight container made of plastic or glass. Glass jars are a common way to keep sauerkraut, particularly if it is handmade.

If you remove a few of forkfuls of sauerkraut after it’s been opened, make sure whatever sauerkraut remains in the container is pushed down so it stays covered by the brine. It will last longer if you keep it covered.

How Long Can You Last Sauerkraut in the Freezer?

Sauerkraut will keep in the freezer for 8 to 12 months. It can be eaten eternally if it has been regularly frozen at 0°F.

Because sauerkraut has such a lengthy shelf life in the refrigerator, most people only freeze it when there is an oversupply of it that will not be consumed in a reasonable amount of time.

Cooked sauerkraut may be frozen. Cooking and freezing will almost certainly destroy all of the probiotics. Once prepared, frozen, and thawed, it must be utilized right away or wasted. Don’t thaw it again.

Because sauerkraut comes in a variety of containers and may be stored in a variety of ways, being aware about it is the best way to get the most out of your sauerkraut.

How to Tell if your sauerkraut has gone bad

It may spoil if air penetrates the container or if there is a microbial imbalance.

When sauerkraut becomes stale, it may:

  • it dries out and loses its taste
  • grow brown and produce an odd odor
  • mold grows on a pink scum

You can continue to use your sauerkraut if there are no indicators of this kind.

Before you toss your sauerkraut in the trash, consider the white coating on top of your cabbage. Don’t be concerned; this white coating is yeast and is entirely safe.

Also, if your sauerkraut has turned murky, this is due to the iodine in the salt. Again, this cloudiness is not cause for concern.

Finally, if your sauerkraut smells and looks nice but tastes mushy and not as wonderful as it used to, why try prepare it in a dish? That way, you may eat your sauerkraut – which is totally safe to eat – without detecting the quality deterioration.

Sauerkraut Storage Instructions

Depending on the sort of sauerkraut you buy, you can preserve it in one of two ways:

Sauerkraut from the grocery store

This sort of sauerkraut is significantly easier to store than fresh sauerkraut. When you get a jar of sauerkraut home from the supermarket, simply put it in the pantry or storage until you are ready to open it. You may even put it in the refrigerator even if it is not yet open.

There is no need to be concerned about bugs or rodents because this meal arrives in a jar. The sturdy glass jar keeps all intruders out of the sauerkraut. The sauerkraut must be refrigerated once the lid is removed from the jar. Because a jar of sauerkraut is hefty, place it near the bottom of the shelf so it does not fall on any things or destroy the shelving.

Sauerkraut Made From Scratch

Freshly prepared sauerkraut is an entirely other beast that must be tamed. It’s not like grocery store sauerkraut: freshly produced sauerkraut requires special attention.

If you make your own, you already know that after you place all of the sauerkraut ingredients, such as garlic, cabbage, carrots, salt, and so on, into the brine, you must cover the vegetables with water and salt, secure the lid, and store it in a dark place with a stable, cool temperature around 70 degrees.

You must wait at least a week after storing the large jar of veggies for the vegetables to ferment. When the fermenting process is complete, the first thing you must do is remove it from the cabinet and store it in the fridge to halt the fermentation process.

This is all that is required to properly preserve freshly prepared sauerkraut. Some argue that it isn’t worth it, but those who enjoy crisp fermented foods will never forget their first mouthful of homemade sauerkraut.

Can Sauerkraut Be Freezed?

Sauerkraut may be frozen and, if done properly, can keep virtually indefinitely. Continue reading to learn how to keep sauerkraut.

  • Freeze in tiny batches: Don’t put a huge amount of sauerkraut in the same bag or container. It should be cut into single-serving pieces. This will aid in the defrosting process.
  • Bags should be used: If the sauerkraut is still in the jar, move it to a freezer-safe plastic bag or container.
  • Reduce the amount of liquid used: When the sauerkraut is thawed, reducing the liquids helps keep the vegetable’s quality.
  • Allow some space in the bag: Allow some space in the bag since the liquid in the sauerkraut will expand as it freezes. Squeeze out as much air as possible before placing the bag in the freezer. If you have a vacuum sealer, it would be an excellent way to keep sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut Thawing Instructions

Thawing sauerkraut is a straightforward process that may be accomplished in a variety of ways.

  • Defrost it in the refrigerator by transferring it from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before you intend to use it. This procedure will allow the sauerkraut to ferment for 3 to 5 days.
  • Microwave it to defrost: Place it in the microwave and cook in 10-20 second intervals until defrosted. If you adopt this approach, the sauerkraut should be consumed as soon as possible.
  • On the counter, defrost: Place the sauerkraut package on the counter for a few hours, depending on the size of the bag.
  • Place the packet of sauerkraut in a sink of cold water to defrost and use immediately when ready.

Is it true that freezing sauerkraut kills the probiotics?

Sauerkraut contains billions of probiotics, which are good bacteria that improve digestion and promote health. Probiotics are temperature sensitive, and many will die if they are frozen. Some of the beneficial bacteria may be able to survive by lying latent, but boiling once frozen sauerkraut will almost certainly destroy all of the probiotics.


Sauerkraut may be kept edible for a very long period if preserved properly. However, if there is insufficient liquid to cover it and it comes into touch with air, it may deteriorate.

There are several foolproof methods for preventing your sauerkraut from spoiling and extending its shelf life to a year. All you have to do is keep it cold, in the fridge or freezer, or heat it at high temperatures to kill the germs that ruin it.


Editorial Staff

Our writers, editors, content managers, and SEO specialist. We all take part in crafting amazing articles. We spend hours ensuring that each article is based on facts, researched, and thorough. You'll never want to click the back button to look for more answers other than here!