We get asked this question all the time, and with good reason. Sauerkraut seems to have some inconsistent messaging around its longevity, largely because of its history. It was originally created as a preserved dish that could last a long time before refrigerators were invented. So why should it spoil, and if it does, when does it spoil? Today we thought we’d clear the air:
It depends on the sauerkraut.
… Ok we know that wasn’t very helpful, so here’s a better answer.
Sauerkraut that isn’t refrigerated should be eaten within about a month of opening, as room temperature air will cause it to dry out and lose its flavour, however it can stay in its unopened jar until you’re ready to eat it (before the best before date of course)
Sauerkraut that is refrigerated however, can stay fresh and tasty for around 4 - 6 months after being opened, but be conscious about what you’re doing with it, because as soon as new bacteria finds its way into the jar that kraut can be spoiled!
We hope that helps answer your question, but there are other factors to consider.
Room temperature sauerkraut:
You can keep this sauerkraut in your cupboard, but because a lot of unrefrigerated sauerkraut comes in a tin can, make sure you use it all up when you open it. Without an airtight lid keeping the sauerkraut safe, you may find this kraut goes bad quite quickly. Remember this sauerkraut has been pasteurized which kills a lot of the good bacteria. Without refrigeration or a lot of the fermented juice, this sauerkraut will also likely go dry and flavourless very quickly.
If shelf life is something you’re interested in, this one also has its benefits. With refrigeration and an air-tight jar, this kraut can last a long time, but once it’s opened it’ll still be good and tasty for another 4 - 6 months. We still advise you keep an eye on it though, as any bacteria from the utensils you put in it, may change the kraut quality. But if you love your kraut enough, it won’t stay in the jar for long! ;)