Do you throw out sauerkraut juice after finishing your sauerkraut? If you do, you are throwing out a nutrient-dense and health-promoting (and delicious!) liquid that you could be using in so many different ways! Before going into all the various uses, let’s talk a bit more about sauerkraut, and how to get the best quality.
If you are a fermented food lover like me, you probably know the amazing health benefits of a properly made sauerkraut. Not only is it chock full of vitamin and nutrients, it has a high dose of fiber and probiotics to feed your healthy gut bacteria to improve your immune and digestive system. I love what a huge difference incorporating sauerkraut into my diet has made in my digestion and overall health, and I highly recommend you try it out. It has actually been the best remedy for my candida symptoms because it doesn’t contain sugar like kombucha or yogurt that can feed the yeast.
I always prefer making my own sauerkraut because it’s so cheap and easy, and contains way more gut healing nutrients and probiotic strains than the store-bought kind. However, if you do decide to purchase it, always buy it from the refrigerated section and make sure it has the words “fermented” and/or “live cultures” on the label. The ingredients should also be pretty simple, usually just cabbage, salt, and water, without sugar or vinegar. Bubbies is one of my favorite brands that makes quality fermented products.
If you regularly enjoy sauerkraut, you are probably left with a varying amount of sauerkraut juice or brine, and you may not know what to do with all of it. Don’t let it go to waste! These are 9 of my favorite ways to enjoy sauerkraut juice:
1. Drink it straight as a gut shot
Have you ever walked around a health food store and come across “gut shot” products by Farmhouse Culture? That’s just sauerkraut juice that’s been bottled up!
If you don’t mind the sour tangy taste of the sauerkraut juice, this is one of the ways to get a healthy dose of probiotics very quickly. Since the juice contains just as much beneficial nutrients as sauerkraut, but in a more concentrated form, drinking it straight can be a really healthy supplement to your diet. I love taking a “gut shot” first thing in the morning and before going to bed, instead of taking probiotic supplements. Remember: probiotics in food form is much more absorbable by your body (and cheaper!) than trying to get it from a pill.
2. Use it in salad dressing and other sauces
I love using sauerkraut juice to make dressings and various sauces. Almost all dressings and sauces need some kind of acid to make them tangy and more flavorful, like lemon juice or some kind of vinegar, and you can just substitute those ingredients with the same amount of sauerkraut juice. Not only does it give it a delicious flavor, it’s also way healthier!
3. Splash over cooked vegetables and meat
One of my favorite cooking tricks is, when you taste your food and you think it needs more salt, try adding vinegar instead. It’s an instant flavor boost, and your veggies and meat just taste so much better with a bit of acidity. Using sauerkraut juice as a vinegar substitute is a delicious and probiotic-rich way to elevate almost any savory dish and I do this for almost every one of my meals.
4. Make the next batch of sauerkraut or pickled veggies
Normally, you use cabbage, salt, the water “sweat out” from the cabbage, and/or a bit more water to make a new batch of sauerkraut at home (you can see the detailed instructions here). However, you can also use a bit of sauerkraut juice to mix into the new batch to give the new batch a boost with an active culture starter.
This helps the sauerkraut ferment faster, and helps ensure success if you ever failed at making sauerkraut in the past.
5. Add it to your favorite dip recipes
Another favorite method of mine! I love a good dip and they are usually so addicting because they have a delicious balance of salty and tangy. If you love salt and vinegar potato chips, you know what I’m talking about.
The next time you make a yummy dip like Caramelized Onion Bacon Dip, Paleo Pumpkin Hummus, or Dairy Free Salmon Cream “Cheese,” use sauerkraut juice instead of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for a fun, healthy twist!
5. Give it to your pet
The probiotics and the nutrients in sauerkraut juice are just as beneficial for our pets as they are for humans! Just like us, we commonly administer medications and antibiotics for out pets starting at a young age, which compromise their digestion. Also, a typical store-bought kibble is quite dehydrating and deficient in necessary nutrients that are necessary for their optimal health. Supplementing with sauerkraut juice gives our pets enzymes and healthy nutrition, while repairing and restoring their gut, especially if they suffer from food allergies.
You can start by starting out with a teaspoon of sauerkraut juice splashed over your pets food (or even less if they are especially small) and increase the amount as necessary. My dogs looked a bit confused when they first tasted it, but they now enjoy it regularly without a problem.
6. Use it as a pickleback or in a cocktail
If you don’t know what a pickleback is, it’s when you take a shot of liquor and chase it with a shot of pickle brine. I know, I know… This isn’t necessarily the healthiest way to use sauerkraut juice, but hey, if I’m going to enjoy a drink now and then, might as well keep my health in check by replenishing my body with nourishing and healing nutrients. Am I right, friends?
You can also add sauerkraut juice to a refreshing, savory cocktail like a Bloody Mary or a Michelada. Again, if you are going to indulge in an unhealthy habit, this is the to do it in the healthiest way possible!
7. Marinate meat with it
You’ll commonly find some kind of acid (vinegar, wine, citrus juice, or tomatoes) in a meat marinade recipe because it tenderizes the meat faster and cuts down on cooking time by breaking down the protein bonds. Try using sauerkraut juice instead next time and you’ll find that it brings out a delicious flavor to the meat. I especially love using sauerkraut juice when cooking pork as they complement each other really well.
One quick note about using sauerkraut juice as a marinade: you won’t get the same healthy benefits after heating up sauerkraut juice so this is for the flavor purpose only. For its full benefits, enjoy it in its raw form.
9. Use it as a facial toner
You are probably thinking, ” What the f—??” But, it’s true! Sauerkraut juice makes a really great toner because of its acidity level, along with it beneficial nutrients.
The main purpose of a toner is to restore the pH level of the skin, which can be disrupted because of poor diet, stress, environmental toxins, and conventional skin products. Our skin should be on a slightly acidic side, but typically becomes more alkaline because of these disruptive factors. Using toners that are more acidic than our skin normalizes the pH level of our skin to where it should be.
Typical store-bought toners are filled with toxins and hormone disruptors that do more harm than good. By using naturally acidic sauerkraut juice, which is also filled with beneficial enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, it gently exfoliates the skin and can be quite helpful for skin conditions like acne and eczema.
I suggest you start out diluting 1 part sauerkraut juice with 4 parts water and building it up to 1:1 ratio depending on the sensitivity of your skin. Store this DIY potion in the refrigerator.
As you can see, there are so many different ways to use sauerkraut juice! The next time you have some leftover, I hope you save it to use in 1 or more ways listed above. It’s a delicious and health-promoting nutritional powerhouse!