HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


A rant about a jar of sauerkraut I bought yesterday

  • h

Yesterday I bought a jar of Ba-Tampte sauerkraut. I took one taste and spit it out.

Some idiot had put sugar and vinegar in it! So much so, in fact, that the label shows a significant number of carbs per serving.

What ever happened to good old-fashioned honest sauerkraut? Sauerkraut is fermented cabhbage--PERIOD. It has no vinegar, and certainly no sugar! The last time I tasted Ba-Tempte sauerkraut (probably 10 years ago) I don't recall that it contained sugar and vinegar.

I can't imagine what caused the company to start adding sugar and vinegar. Has the public taste become so badly corrupted that the public now expects to find sugar in *everything*????

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I always read the lables on kraut packages, bags, jars, and cans. You would be amazed at how many companies add vinegar. I know of only one other sweet type and it is Stokley's Bavarian style. We had eaten it off and on and I never noticed how sweet it was until we started taking sugar out of our diet. I opnend a can months later and yuck. It was unbareably sweet.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      I never looked at the label, because why would I need to if I was buying a jar of (real) sauerkraut? It said "sauerkraut", everyone knows what's in the stuff and what's not, so no need to look at the label.

      Speaking of added sugar, and of rants...((grin))--just about all the shelved (i.e. non-refrigerated) salad dressings have sugar in them. !!!?????!!!!! Since when do dressings like herbed oil & vinegar or blue cheese have sugar in them? (I make my own blue cheese dressing by thinning out may and adding fresh blue cheese, perhaps add a tiny amt of vinegar, and it tastes far better than anything from supermarket.)

      1. re: Howard-2

        Once you start checking labels you'll be surprised at the amount of sugar in packaged foods such as canned soups. Even things that say "no sugar added" like some brands of yogurt may have the ubiquitous high-fructose corn syrup. And once you stop eating them, if you have to consume them again your tongue will curl.

        1. re: jillp

          Yeah, that lie you often see in print, "no sugar added", annoys me. OK, no sugar added, we'll use high-fructose corn syrup....

          1. re: jillp

            Also, as I know from experience, hard on us diabetics. I've been "reading the label" religously since they first started providing that information. Once, I got a drink out of the machine at work and realized half-way through it that it wasn't diet coke. The office manager had run out of space for real coke and just used the diet slot. Yuck. The price of truely sugar-free is vigilance.

          2. re: Howard-2

            That is not true. There are many pickled cabbage products out there full of vinegar. Read the lable.

            As for salad dressings, for the most part I don't buy them except for some Marie's Blue Cheese

            1. re: Howard-2

              Kreugermann's in Los Angeles and Meeter's in (somewhere) Wisconsin might have a preservative or two, but their pickle is purely salt and cabbage. I've found Meeter's in the Midwest, Nashville and LA, Kreugermann's only in LA. The Kroger stores were carrying an excellent brand of Polish kraut several years ago, but those chains are so damn fickle, if it wasn't a big hit they almost certainly dropped it.

              I'm not QUITE ready to start making my own, but I'm collecting recipes...

              1. re: Will Owen

                I'm currently fermenting a batch of my own. It appears to me that the key thing in doing it right is to limit the amount of air that gets to the fermenting cabbage. You do this by sealing the fermenting vessel--usually, with a bag (or double bag) of brine. And you need something to weight down the cabbage--I have a big rock that I found outside, washed a few times, boiled, etc.

          3. Trader Joe's sauerkraut (in the refrigerated section) has cabbage, water, distilled vinegar and salt. At least it's got no sugar!

            1. There was a sauerkraut thread here a while ago. Good kraut is out there but you may have to search it out. You can go to the Union Square Farmers Market on Wednesday or Friday and look for the Hawthorne Valley stand. They make a great, raw (uncooked) orgnic sauerkraut. It comes in several flavors. They also have Kimchi. Everything's made on the farm. You can also look in the natural food stores for Wellspring Farm of Vermont Fresh and Crunchy Sauerkraut or ask them to order it or you can order it direct from the farm (see URL). It's also raw and has to be kept refrigerated like the first kraut. Somebody also recommended the bulk sauerkraut available at Fairway and the various pickle stands around town. Anyhow, that's a start.

              Link: http://www.wellspringfarmvt.com/

              1. If one goes to Bavaria, all "served" sauerkraut at restaurants is both sweet and sour in flavor, with tremendous depth of flavor. I assume base kraut is cooked and ingredients (sugar? honey?, vinegar?) added to get this effect. But the bottom line is...authentic sauerkraut is complex and not mouth- puckeringly "sour". The kraut that comes with a ballpark hotdog is not German tasting in any significant way.

                1. I threw out the last package of sauerkraut that I bought because it tasted like pure salt.

                  1. Sometimes cheapest is best. Libby's only 99 cents a can. Cabbage, salt, water.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: 2chez mike

                      So true. Had to do grocery shopping today and thought I would check out the sauerkraut situation. Libby's, Gundelsheim, and Eden Organic were the only krauts with just cabbage water and salt. Well, Gundelsheim also had spices (not identified), but it also said it was German-style.

                      Surprisingly enough, Clausen and Hebrew natural, both refrigerated, had preservatives. No sugar, but still. I thought Hebrew National claimed they answered to a higher authority. I guess God approves of preservatives.

                      The Eden kraut had organic cabbage, spring water and sea salt, but if I remember from the one time I tried it years ago, it wasn't too tasty. I like Libby's.

                      One of the other posters mentioned that some German sauerkrauts have sweeteners and other things, but, IMO, they should be labeled as such.

                      You really have to read those labels. That was brought home to me recently by my interest in canned sardines and chocolate (not eaten together).

                      You would think ... canned sardines ... that should be it ... but no, you have to read the label. It is usually the flavored ones ... tomato, mustard ... that have the most junk in them. So I stopped buying those. I only found one canned sardine in tomato sauce that had just that - tomato puree.

                      Some of those high-priced chocolates that are 60 or more cacoa have junk in them. That's most true of the supermarket versions, but a few I've bought from pricy chocolate stores had stuff in there I didn't bargain for.

                      And even WORSE there are things that look like food, but aren't really. Milk protein concentrate (MPC) in Kraft Singles and Velveeta is not considered food by the FDA and Kraft had to stop calling these items 'cheese food'. So now Kraft calls it 'cheese product'.

                      One would think from the name, that milk protein concentrate was just something like powdered milk or whey. MPC, from what I've read, is what is left when everything else valuable in milk has been extracted.

                      Well, a lot of people suspected that Velveeta was not really cheese, let alone food. It seems that MPC is also used in lots of products that one would not expect it in ... frozen desserts, high protein sports drinks, energy bars, and nutritional supplements.

                      I read labels now.

                      Link: http://www.fda.gov/foi/warning_letter...

                    2. I can't imagine buying a can/bottle/package of kraut pre-sugared, but kraut can be good with a little sweet tang to it. As mentioned in other posts, it is kind of a Bavarian or Alsace-ian (spelling?) way to make it. My family has always bought the Libby's kraut, then once it is in the pressure cooker with the pork, you add some brown sugar (never plain, must be DARK brown) and some vinegar. Adds a tang to the dish, not sugar sweet by far, but a certain flavor. All I know is that I like it. But I can't imagine a pre-sweetened kraut, must be done to one's own taste specifications and with Brown sugar and vinegar. Or at least, that my opinion.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: AnnieG

                        I always found that if one drained the kraut, rinsed it with water, drained it again (squeezing out all excess liquid) and then slow cooked it with pork, caraway seeds, small chunks of apple the resulting taste was mild, complex, and sweet. This was more or less how my German born grandmother cooked it. Not health food, but really good hearty fare.


                        1. re: e.d.

                          That what I do when I'm making kielbasa, kraut and potatoes. I saute some onion and sliced fresh apple for a mild sweetness, then add the kraut and some white wine or beer.

                          1. re: 2chez mike

                            Yeh, I do saute onions sometimes and serving with potatoes seems mandatory. I cook the pork and kraut on a low temp covered for about 3 hours and I don't have to add any liquid. The kraut also turns a lovely golden color. Damn, I'm going to have to cook this soon, I'm hungry.

                      2. Many mass produced Sauerkrauts are often processed using heat thereby destroying many benefical enzyemes and affecting the taste. For the highest-quality raw fermented Sauerkraut try the ones made like those from Rejuvenative Foods. They make two styles with either Lemon & Dill or Celtic Sea-salt added only. No sugar, vinegar, ect.

                        Link: http://www.rejuvenative.com/catalog_o...

                        1. OK: do you have access to actual "fresh sauerkraut" (IE in a bag vs can or jar)?. I'm trying to figure out what the big deal is? I just bought Silver Floss Sauerkraut, which didn't have sugar or vinegar added, it was OK, whatever: I'm not eating it straight. But usually we have Ba TAmpte or similar. maybe we're living in sauerkraut heaven, I don't know?