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Can Sauerkraut Go Bad?

Are you a fan of sauerkraut? This tangy, healthy side dish is made from pickled cabbage so you know it’s high in essential vitamins and dietary fiber. Sauerkraut is also fermented so it is loaded with probiotics that aid in digestion.

Since sauerkraut has been pickled, storing this side dish is as easy as can be! Sauerkraut has a long storage life so you have plenty of time using up a bottle. That being said, sauerkraut doesn’t keep forever.

Sauerkraut bag
Sauerkraut bag

Can Sauerkraut Go Bad?

Yes, sauerkraut has a limited shelf life. However, it will take a while before this side dish turns bad. The vegetable is preserved in a sugar and vinegar solution. Sugars and vinegar are known to extend the shelf life of any dish, including side dishes like sauerkraut!

It helps that sauerkraut is quite stable. The pickling solution inhibits bacterial growth. That means the product won’t spoil easily. The only real way that sauerkraut could go bad is if it’s been stored improperly.

Sauerkraut prep for salad
Sauerkraut prep for salad

Signs that Sauerkraut Has Gone Bad

Since sauerkraut is a fermented dish, it has, technically, gone bad. Still, there are times when the product becomes too ripe to consume. One of the first signs that the sauerkraut has gone bad is an off-smelling aroma. If the product emits a strong rotting odor, the sauerkraut has gone bad.

Check if the fermented cabbage has taken on a weird texture or color. If there’s significant texture or discoloration, discard the product. If you see greenish-blue specks on top of the pickled vegetable, the product has turned moldy and is no longer safe to eat.

How to Store Sauerkraut?

The best way to store sauerkraut is to keep it in the refrigerator. Refrigeration helps inhibit bacterial growth and minimize the risk of spoilage.

Sauerkraut doesn’t keep well in hot, humid environments so you have to keep it in cold storage. By keeping the product in the fridge, you can extend the shelf life of sauerkraut even more.

To store sauerkraut in the fridge, you can use its original packaging. However, if the sauerkraut came in tins instead of glass containers, you’ll have to transfer the product to a glass or plastic container. Cans are not ideal for refrigeration. Just stick the product in the coldest spot in the fridge and you are done!

The same storage methods work for other fermented products, such as pickles and kimchi.

Sauerkraut submerged in brine
Sauerkraut submerged in brine – the way to store it

When kept in the refrigerator, sauerkraut will stay fresh for 6 months maybe more when the temperature is stable. It is important to keep the container tightly closed after every use.

We don’t recommend keeping the product at room temperature either. Although the pickling solution could extend the shelf life of the vegetable, the storage life won’t be as long because of the unstable temperature.

Sauerkraut date on bag
Sauerkraut date on bag

Can You Freeze Sauerkraut?

Just like any food, you can freeze sauerkraut. However, freezing is not necessary at all. For one thing, refrigeration is enough to extend the shelf life of the product. In addition, freezing could alter the texture and flavor of sauerkraut.

Frozen and defrosted sauerkraut won’t be as tasty as refrigerated sauerkraut. But if say, you still want to freeze this product, make sure to transfer the sauerkraut in a freezer-safe container.


Sauerkraut is a versatile side dish that adds a boost of nutrients to everyday meals. It’s a good thing that sauerkraut is so easy to store. Just keep these storage tips in mind the next time you shopped for sauerkraut in bulk!