Canned sauerkraut may be an easy way to get a bowlful of tangy cabbage, but it also gives you a dripping, salty, one-note dish. German for "sour cabbage," sauerkraut actually has its origins in ancient China, where laborers at the Great Wall ate it more than 2,000 years ago. Years later, it became a favorite German food and a topping for some American dishes, such as hot dogs and Reuben sandwiches. Don't simply dump sauerkraut out of the can -- a little prep work can make this shortcut food tastier and healthier.
Things You'll Need
- Clean dish towel, optional
- Butter, salt and pepper
- Skillet or cooking pot
- Caraway seeds and cooked apples
- Dried cloves, optional
- Cider, chicken stock or dry white wine
- Chopped onions, garlic or bacon bits
Drain the juice out of the can of sauerkraut using your fingers or a knife held across the top of the can. Save the juice if you want to give a pickled flavor to sliced beets or cooked asparagus or use it for sauerkraut soup.
Rinse the sauerkraut in a colander if you want to neutralize its strong favor or saltiness before using it for cooking. Before draining and rinsing, canned sauerkraut contains a large amount of sodium -- up to 661 milligrams per cup of cabbage and liquid.
Squeeze the cabbage gently with your hands or with a clean dishtowel to remove excess moisture. Drying the sauerkraut is especially important if you plan to serve it in sandwiches.
Taste the sauerkraut. Some sauerkraut recipes add sugar to balance the other flavors, but your can may already have some sugar added. If the sauerkraut tastes a bit sweet, reduce the amount of sugar called for in your recipe.
Add butter, salt and pepper to the pan when warming the sauerkraut. These very basic flavorings may be all you need when serving the sauerkraut with spicy sausages.
Add crushed caraway seeds and cooked apples to sauerkraut to serve as a side dish with meat. Add a pinch of dried cloves to this classic combination of ingredients if you want an even more flavorful dish.
Add a small amount of flavorful liquid when you heat the sauerkraut. Flavors that pair especially well with sauerkraut include cider, chicken stock or dry white wine. Let the liquid cook down for 10 minutes so the sauerkraut isn't too wet when you serve it.
Cook chopped onions, garlic or bacon bits to sprinkle on or stir into the hot sauerkraut before serving. Taste the sauerkraut and season it with salt and pepper if you want.
Tips & Warnings
- Add sauerkraut to beef and barley soup for a vegetable boost.
- Use sauerkraut for desserts such as rhubarb pies, apple strudel or a sauerkraut cream pie.
- Add sauerkraut to meatloaf or make sauerkraut balls with ground beef.
- Limit the amount of sauerkraut in your diet if you have high blood pressure or other health problems aggravated by too much salt.
- The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion: Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
- Recipetips.com: Sauerkraut
- Recipetips.com: German Sauerkraut 3 Recipe
- The Flavor Bible; Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Sodium in Diet
- Photo Credit Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images