Picking up a new jar of sauerkraut this weekend inspired me to do a little taste testing of the three brands I had in my fridge (See? Addict.).
Sauerkraut is thought to have originated in Asia. Using salt to preserve foods was not uncommon in Europe, so I'm not sure of the validity of this theory. Moving forward with the theory, as it moved west to Europe when the trade routes opened, Germans embraced the food and replaced the wine and yeast in the fermentation process with salt. Mmmm...Salt. It is rich in probiotics and very good for you.
All three of the brands in my review have three ingredients: cabbage, water, and salt. They are all made the right way - without vinegar, added lactic acid, or "natural spices." I rated each of them on texture, taste, and ethical/sustainable practices.
Brand 1: Bubbies
Likes: I love the texture and taste of Bubbies Sauerkraut. Of the three, it is probably my favorite (flavor wise) because of the tangy, strong flavor. The texture is very good - the pieces of cabbage are a nice consistency with a little bit of crunch. Packaging in a glass jar as opposed to plastic is a plus for me because I don't have to worry about BPAs.
Dislikes: No where on the bottle do they make the claim that they are using cabbage that comes from organic farming practices. They also carry additional pickled products that showcase or incorporate animal products.
Brand 2: Rejuvenative Foods
Likes: The taste is pretty good. Products are labeled as organic. The foods are raw and not pasteurized. All of the products I've browsed on their site or seen in person are, in the majority of cases, vegan. The exception? Some products use honey.
Dislikes: The cabbage is a very minute, pulverized shred, so no crunch for Cami. The taste is alright, but not as tangy as I would like. On a few of the jars, I've seen mold growing up around the lid immediately after time of purchase, even though I replace the lid quickly and do refrigerate. I recently read the label and I am supposed to be keeping things flat in the jar, so perhaps that would help.
Brand 3: Cultured Classics
Likes: The product is local and available at my local farmer's market in Seattle, WA. The cabbage in the product is farmed using organic farming practices. The cabbage cut is very consistent and a very good size. I get some crunch and chewiness from the cabbage. The packaging is in a glass jar with a plastic lid, so I have less worries about leaching. The products available at the farmers market (at least the ones I looked at) were all vegan.
Dislikes: The sauerkraut may not have fermented for quite as long as I like because it was a bit milder than my preference.
Everyone has their flavor and texture preferences, but my winner was Cultured Classics because they are organic, had the texture I was looking for, and a great taste - plus they are local. I am sad I am shelving Bubbies because of the great taste, but will probably turn to Rejuvenative Foods if I can't get to the farmer's market.