What Makes a Great Sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut makes a plain hot dog 10 times more flavorful! A high quality refrigerated sauerkraut should have a taste profile that leads with sour, is supported by salt and followed by bitter and sweet. The aroma and flavor should be that of fermented cabbage. There may be notes of vinegar, dill and pickling spices of mustard and caraway. If a vinegar intensity is present, it should not be so high that it causes a “burn.” There should not be “soapy” notes. The texture of the sauerkraut should be firm, with some crunchiness and chewiness. It should not be overly fibrous. It should be juicy and may have some astringency.

Tasting terms

  • taste profile

    The expected levels of each basic taste in any given food; defines the overall taste balance. Example: The taste profile of baking chocolate is led by bitterness that is balanced by a low amount of sweetness.

  • sour

    One of the basic tastes; often considered sharp, tart and acidic. Example: Lemon juice, vinegar and fermented foods often have a strong sour component.

  • bitter

    One of the basic tastes; often considered harsh and unpleasant in abundance, but a key basic taste for foods like coffee and dark chocolate. Example: Unripened fruit, aspirin and coffee all have bitter components.

  • salt

    One of the basic tastes; tasting of or containing salt. Example: Potato chips, sea water and cured meats all have a strong salt component.

  • sweet

    One of the basic tastes; often considered pleasing while exhibiting characteristics of sugar. Example: Honey, ripe fruits and syrup all have a pronounced sweet component.

  • aroma

    The smell that emanates from food. Along with appearance, texture, flavor and taste, aroma is one of the five dimensions used to evaluate a product. Example: Brownies should have an aroma that includes chocolate as well as egg, toasty and sweet notes.

  • flavor

    A combination of a food's basic taste and its accompanying aroma, flavor is the distinctive taste of a food or ingredient while it is in the mouth. Along with aroma, appearance, texture and taste, flavor is one of the five dimensions considered by ChefsBest Master Tasters. Example: Chocolate chip cookies should have a moderate chocolate flavor accompanied by a slightly lower level of complex dough flavor that includes egg, flour, vanilla and brown sugar notes.

  • texture

    A dimension used to organize attributes like mouthfeel, graininess and initial bite, it is one of the five dimensions used by ChefsBest Master Tasters to evaluate food. Example: Glazed popcorn will have a crunch texture. The texture of milk chocolate should be creamy and smooth.

  • astringency

    The tendency of some foods to cause the mouth to pucker; often associated with the presence of tannins or acidity. Example: Red wine, tea, grapefruit juice and pickles can be astringent.