Do You Need To Rinse Canned Sauerkraut?

Cabbage may not seem like the most exciting vegetable, but the truth is that it can be turned into some pretty tasty products, one of which being sauerkraut. Made from white or red cabbage leaves that have been salted and left to ferment, the BBC explains that as juices are released from the vegetable, natural sugars transform into lactic acid. However, not all sauerkraut is made in quite the same way. 

Unlike raw kraut, Cleveland Kitchen shares that canned sauerkraut undergoes a heating process that sterilizes the cabbage, which can change its final appearance, composition, and even taste. Naturally, this might have you wondering whether canned kraut needs to be prepared differently when it comes to serving — let us clarify a few things.

Raw sauerkraut (much like kimchi) is especially praised for its beneficial bacteria that naturally develops over time. While Healthline explains that canned sauerkraut lacks any of these gut-healthy probiotics as a result of being pasteurized, canned kraut isn't without a purpose. 

A quick and convenient alternative for when you can't wait for cabbage to ferment, canned kraut is a viable stand-in with a longer shelf life. As for how its flavor compares, Grow Your Pantry reveals that pasteurized kraut still absorbs the brine as it sits sealed in a jar. However, will this extended soaking time make jars of pasteurized sauerkraut worthy of a rinse?

It's not necessary to rinse, unless you prefer it that way

Every kind of sauerkraut possesses a tang that borders on sour. Although raw kraut might be a touch funkier as a result of fermentation, that's not to say that canned kraut won't still be pungent. It's this very potency that makes sauerkraut what it is, which is why LiveStrong explains that you probably shouldn't rinse the canned cabbage condiment if you want to maintain its characteristic flavor. Yet, while many agree that this extra step should be avoided, there are exceptions. 

According to Everyday Health, store-bought sauerkraut is often saltier than homemade versions, making it more than acceptable to dilute the product with water. That said, if you're trying to limit your sodium intake or simply aren't a fan of super salty flavors, then feel free to rinse the shredded cabbage. After all, doing this will just create a milder (still somewhat salty) tasting sauerkraut. 

Additionally, thinking about how a jar of canned sauerkraut will be used can also help you determine whether or not to rinse kraut. Served on its own, you might want to mute its strength by giving it a quick rinse, whereas added to an otherwise bland recipe, you might choose to leave cabbage in its briny state to amp up complexity and limit the need for extra seasoning or salt. Evidently, the choice is always up to you!