Can I eat this?: Sauerkraut edition
May 24, 2013 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Time for another round of Can I Eat This! The contender: a pouch Farmhouse Culture Smoked Jalepeno Sauerkraut, left out overnight on its side. Package says "keep bag upright" and "perishable, please keep refrigerated," but it's still cool to the touch.Would you eat this? Should I eat this? I love it AND it is expensive, but I also don't want to get sick.
posted by c'mon sea legs to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
From wikipedia:
Fully cured sauerkraut keeps for several months in an airtight container stored at 15 °C (60 °F) or below. Neither refrigeration nor pasteurization is required, although these treatments prolong storage life.
I suggest that a cool packet left out overnight is going to be perfectly fine. If it was mine, I'd happily eat it.
posted by Magnakai at 9:30 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

I don't have experience with that particular product, but I'd eat it without hesitation. I made my own sauerkraut last fall, and the process involved having the stuff sitting out at room temperature, submerged in brine and the crock covered with a towel but otherwise unsealed, for weeks. My guess is they want you to keep it upright because there may not be enough brine in the package to keep the solid contents submerged if it's laid flat, but that would take much longer than overnight to become a problem.
posted by jon1270 at 9:35 AM on May 24, 2013

Eat it.
posted by BenPens at 9:40 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it's a food that was basically designed to not perish over long periods of time--I wouldn't worry about eating this at all.
posted by Kimberly at 9:41 AM on May 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

I would definitely eat that. I think Farmhouse Culture's recommendations for how long you can keep their product are very conservative. I'm planning to eat the end of a pint of their regular sauerkraut today that's been in my fridge for a month. Unless it smells off or has grown mold, I'll eat it.
posted by purpleclover at 9:44 AM on May 24, 2013

Sauerkraut was one of the scurvy-preventatives shipped across the seas in huge stinky barrels on multi-year voyages in the Royal Navy during the Age of Sail. I think that a modern-processed package that spent one night on the counter will probably be okay.

nb there is really no such thing as a definitive "smell test," plenty of things that smell fine can make you incredibly sick.
posted by elizardbits at 9:45 AM on May 24, 2013

Yeah, it's living anyway - was living even before you irritated it by tilting it sideways. Yum to you!
posted by Namlit at 9:46 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

The problem with Kraut and smell tests is anyway that it smells sour from the start.
posted by Namlit at 9:47 AM on May 24, 2013

From their website:
This item is shipped directly from Farmhouse Culture's warehouse in Santa Cruz, California. Since it is a fresh, refrigerated product, it must be shipped to arrive within two days of shipping, and stored in the refigerator both before and after opening. So, any ship-to address that is more than two days away from Santa Cruz, expedited shipping will be the only shipping option provided.
So you are good if it was overnight. On another note, I am ordering some now!
posted by cjorgensen at 9:59 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

"Keep upright" might also just mean that the bag's seal is not sufficient to keep the liquids inside once it's been opened. In any case, at the outdoor festival I coordinate, sauerkraut is the one food the health inspector never cares about.
posted by teremala at 10:05 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

nb there is really no such thing as a definitive "smell test," plenty of things that smell fine can make you incredibly sick.

I completely agree with this in general (for example, I roll my eyes at people who pronounce raw meat edible or inedible by smell). However, when it comes to fermented food, I believe Sandor Katz that sauerkraut that's gone off has a distinctively rotten smell.
posted by purpleclover at 10:23 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing eating it. I am a big old paranoid "throw it out" advocate with most foods. but sauerkraut is fermented, so leaving it out overnight should just make it ferment a little more. eventually you'd get a food you wouldn't want to eat (think wine becoming vinegar) but that wouldn't happen overnight.
posted by feets at 12:22 PM on May 24, 2013

I can tell you that when bags of sauerkraut go bad, they get full of air and are all puffed up!! I used to take pouches of the sauerkraut from the Sam's Club deli to keep in my desk drawer at work, and one time a few of them were in there after the expiration date. They got all puffed up and I cut one open for a test and sure enough, it was no longer good. So I'm sure yours is fine!
posted by orangek8 at 12:40 PM on May 24, 2013

I agree with the consensus - you can surely eat and enjoy it. And as a frequent fermenter of things (I have cucumber pickles, kimchi, kraut, creme fraiche, gravlax and corned beef in process in my kitchen right now, and I'm teaching a pickling and preserving seminar on Tuesday night), I will tell you that bad sauerkraut is indeed distinctively stinky and not even close to the same distinctive stink of delicious regular sauerkraut. Enjoy your snack!
posted by hungrybruno at 12:50 PM on May 24, 2013

Response by poster: Ate it. After the first response. With a bagel and cream cheese. No regrets, it was awesome.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 1:40 PM on May 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I was thinking, "How much more fermented could it get?"

Now, kim chee....
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:24 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, eat it for sure. Sauerkraut was invented for people without fridges.
posted by windykites at 3:19 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am adding a follow-up to this thread, which is that that Farmhouse Culture sauerkraut I claimed I was going to eat on May 24, I actually ate on July 28. It was totally fine, if extra-sour. I am totally fine. Sauerkraut can last a long time.
posted by purpleclover at 7:20 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

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