Sauerkraut with Bacon and Apples

All this talk of the sweet goodness you can make apples this season, and as someone rightly pointed out to me, there are many savory things you can make with apples as well. My dear Minnesota-raised father, who cannot resist any recipe with both sauerkraut and bacon, couldn’t wait to try this apple and bacon sauerkraut from the Niman Ranch Cookbook. The trick is to use good quality sauerkraut; the best stuff, according to dad, is refrigerated and in a jar. He drains it, but doesn’t rinse it, lest the flavor rinses away. A good quality apple-wood smoked bacon helps too. If you love sauerkraut as much as we do (and there are fewer and fewer of us out there these days, unfortunately), you’ll love this recipe.

Sauerkraut with Bacon and Apples Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/4 pound sliced apple-wood smoked bacon
  • 2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and grated
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, ground
  • 3 cups unfiltered apple juice
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 pounds of refrigerated (in a jar, not can), prepared sauerkraut, drained (about 1 24-fluid-ounce jar, drained)

Method

1 Lay the slices of bacon down at the bottom of a large, thick-bottomed pot and heat on medium heat. Cook until the bacon has browned and most of the bacon fat has been rendered, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pot and set on paper towels to drain. Remove all but 1 Tbsp of the fat in the pot. (Do not pour down the sink, bacon fat will clog your drain!) Chop the bacon and set aside.

2 Add the chopped onions and apples to the pot and cook until the onions are translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and caraway and cook for a minute more.

3 Add the apple juice and the white vinegar to the pot. Increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil and boil vigorously until the liquid is reduced to a syrup, about 5 minutes.

4 Add the sauerkraut and bacon to the pot and stir to coat with the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauerkraut has been heated through and is tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Adapted from The Niman Ranch Cookbook.

31 Comments

  1. Pille

    We eat loads (and I mean – loads) of sauerkraut here in Estonia, but I’ve never made it with apples before. Sounds like a really delicious recipe (please say thanks! to your dad from me, Elise:)

  2. Christine

    Oh, I love sauerkraut! So simple to make also! I am definitely making this a weekend treat!

    A million years ago, I had in-laws in rural PA and New Years was not complete without sauerkraut and dumplings! It’s a PA Dutch good luck ritual. It is so yummy, the perfect comfort food!

    The used a pork broth, purchased in large containers from the local butcher, otherwise make your own with meaty pork bones, so the broth is full of chunks of meat. I have boiled the bone from a Boston butt to do this. Now, to this yummy broth was added a lot of homemade sauerkraut, bring it to a boil and drop homemade dumplings on top, cover and cook as per your dumpling recipe.

    It may sound basic, the seasonings are all in the ingredients but it is sublime! It was served with a sweet pickle relish or a golop of fresh horseradish!

    Note from Elise: Sauerkraut and dumplings sound so good! I’ve got to tell dad. I’m sure he’ll be all over it. Thanks for the suggestion, Christine!

  3. christine

    Silly question but why white vinegar? wouldn’t cider vinegar be better? How would it effect taste? Just curious…. :-)

    Note from Elise: Good question. I have no idea. You can probably interchange them just fine for this recipe.

  4. Alanna Kellogg

    If there are fewer and fewer sauerkraut lovers these days — I suspect that you’ll make converts with your Dad’s recipe, Elise!

    The sauerkraut from ‘bags’, like that from ‘jars’, is definitely better. And, at least in the Midwest, there are many many small producers of sauerkraut. Some times the sauerkraut makes its way to grocery store shelves, other times into farmers markets. Mostly, however, I just keep an eye out in odd spots, like the corner butcher, who also makes a great sauerkraut using an old family recipe.

    Note from Elise: Dad and I saw an old cabbage slicer at an antique store the other day. He remembered these from growing up in Minnesota. Lots of people had them so they could make their own sauerkraut. Don’t think the climate is right for it here in Northern California, probably not cold enough in the winter, or we would see more fresh sauerkraut here. I think people make it in big barrels that they keep in their basement, don’t they? I’d love to try some truly fresh stuff.

  5. Jerry

    While sauerkraut is less common in this part of Texas than it is in East Texas, we still manage to get some pretty good local varieties, even at the Mega-Mart.

    The cool thing is I just picked up some Granny Smith apples, so I may have to give this a go!

  6. Anonymous

    Oh my. I’ve had a hankering for sauerkraut since the fall colors started kissing the tree tops. I’m making this recipes for tonight’s dinner! I love apples in sauerkraut. The addition of the white wine adds a special touch.

    (You can make sauteed cabbage with bacon, onion and apples too. –Deeee-lish.)

  7. earth heart

    Yum, this sounds so good. I, for one, am a sauerkraut lover. This sounds like a wonderful dish, especially for fall. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks so much!

  8. Irene

    Every fall/winter I have made something similar to this, only instead of bacon, I would dredge country-style pork ribs in flour, brown them, then add the sauerkraut & chopped apples, cover, then lower the heat and let cook slowly until the pork is cooked through and apples are tender. Tender & yummy! Plus the flour would help thicken the ‘kraut a little as well. A woman who ran a tiny, little German restaurant in San Jose years & years ago taught me to fry some bacon, then make a roux from the grease with flour and use it to make a cream-style sauerkraut. I need to try this style though, with all the other added ingredients and I love applewood smoked bacon on just about anything!

    Note from Elise: a white sauce made from the bacon fat to serve with the sauerkraut? Sounds like heaven. Thanks for the idea!

  9. Heather

    Mmmmm, sauerkraut. Count me in!

  10. Abby

    Count me in on the sauerkraut! I grew up in a family that makes it from scratch, but unfortunately I never learned their style. Pehaps I’ll have to come up with my own version! (And bacon? Of course it’s awesome. Everything tastes better with bacon!)

  11. Leisureguy

    My daughter wrote to me:

    Sauerkraut is a traditional Thanksgiving side-dish in Baltimore. Maybe you should give it a go for your Thanksgiving as well, since The Wife seems to express a mild preference against Brussels Sprouts? For example:

    Sauerkraut

    6 slices of smoked bacon, cut into 1/4″ wide strips
    1 large onion, coarsely chopped
    1 carrot, coarsely grated
    1 2-lb. jar of German-style sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
    2 c. dry white wine
    1 1/2 c. beef, pork, or chicken stock
    2 TBSP gin
    1 TBSP caraway seeds
    4 juniper berries, crushed (optional)

    Preheat oven to 300°F. Place bacon, onion, and carrot in heavy large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté until onion is tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from sauerkraut. Add sauerkraut to Dutch oven. Add wine, stock, gin, caraway seeds, and juniper berries. Bring to simmer. Cover tightly, place in oven and bake 1 hour. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring frequently.)

    Serves 4.

    Note from Elise: Thanks for the recipe, Leisureguy!

  12. Chris

    I am a Peace Corps Volunteer in Romania and sauerkraut is also very popular here. It is called varza acra (sour cabbage) and is primarily but not exclusively with sarmale, which is basically a cabbage roll. I grew up eating sauerkraut in the mountains of North Carolina and I love it. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  13. queenmom

    I am looking forward to trying this recipe, my family loves sauerkraut. How long will sauerkraut last in the refrigerator? Any tips for storing it?

  14. Amy

    I made this exact thing last week and we ate it with some bratwurst. Delicious!

  15. Kevin

    hon, ya really gotta rinse the kraut first… then imbue it with YOUR flavors… and trust me, it keeps some of its own…

    K

    Note from Elise: Hi Kevin, given that my dad is in his late seventies, he’s been eating sauerkraut his whole life, and he loves sauerkraut almost as much as he loves his own children, if he says “don’t rinse it” I trust him on that one. He uses a high quality sauerkraut – Bubbies I think is the brand. He’s had sauerkraut every way you could imagine, rinsed or unrinsed, from cans and jars. He likes his sauerkraut strong, and he says that at least the stuff he gets from the jar is better not rinsed. But then again, to each his own, eh?

  16. Kevin

    Indeed.

  17. Jenny

    Hi Elise,

    This looks so good! I really want to try this soon. One quick amateurish question…is this meant to be a side dish or a main dish? It seems like a side dish…what would be a good main dish? Pork of some sort, I’m assuming.
    Thank you! Love the site. :-)

    Jen

  18. Robin

    A friend of mine makes his own sauerkraut here on Maui — even mid-summer — so I doubt northern California is too warm…

  19. Luke

    I am a huge Sauerkraut fun, my wife though… not so much. This might be a good gateway recipe to get her hooked!

  20. Janna

    I live at the southern end of the san francisco bay and just recently made some of my own sauerkraut, and it was incredibly easy!

    You basically just chop the cabbage up, add a whole bunch of salt, and let it sit on the counter for a few weeks, topping off with more brine to keep all the bits well covered. The cabbage apparently has the required bacteria naturally occuring on it, and the salt makes an inhospitable environment for any “bad” bacteria. This guy Sandor Katz has a more precise recipe at wildfermentation.com.

    Anyways, I highly recommend making your own, as it was a great way to use up the extra cabbage we get from our CSA, and really delicious!

    And I’ll be trying this recipe when our next batch of sauerkraut is ready to be eaten!

  21. Karina

    I was just reading how sauerkraut is beneficial for those of us with touchy digestion. [As if I need an excuse to eat it- not!] This looks so good, Elise!

    I make a kind of stew with sauerkraut, sausage, chopped apple and caraway- and the bacon idea sounds like a yummy addition.

  22. Tom

    Has anyone used a sauerkraut maker like this: http://store.therawdiet.com/pisaandkimch.html ?? It looks like it might make it easier (and less ‘scummy’).

    Also, does it smell while you make your own? My wife can’t stand the smell of sauerkraut. I have to wait til she is gone for the evening to cook it.

    I’ve never tried it with apples, but it sounds yummy, and bacon is never wrong…

  23. christopher

    Hey Elise
    My (retired) Mom is visiting in November from North Carolina and I’m going to make this for her (for us). We’re of Hungarian ancestry and I know she’ll love it (I cannot duplicate her cabbage & noodles, hard as I’ve tried LOL).

  24. Janna

    To Tom: I made my sauerkraut in a large cylindrical flower vase, and it was neither smelly nor scummy. I’m thinking maybe scum happens when you leave bits of cabbage above the level of the brine where it can rot? And I only left mine on the counter for two weeks, making a very young and mild sauerkraut which did not smell. It has continued to develop more of that nice tang in it’s jars in the fridge.

    Thanks for the recipe Elise!

  25. Carolyn

    Just made this wonderful sauerkraut dish..I did chop my apples instead of grate, added some brown sugar and also irish bangers. Let simmer until the bangers were cooked..Unbelievable..what flavor..Thanks Elise for so many fantastic recipes..

  26. I Love Sauerkraut

    Some people make their sauerkraut in the crockery liner of a crockpot. Better than buying a special crock for it, if you already have a crockpot. If you don’t like the smell, put the crock inside a large plastic sotorage container (not airtight, like what you’d store extra linens in or something) and keep it outside or in the garage. It’s amazing that all that sauerkraut is made of is cabbage and salt.

  27. Tonya

    My mom made sauerkraut a lot when I was growing up. She used spareribs and caraway seed sometimes hot dogs or smoked sausage, sometimes all of the above. We had mashed potatoes with this, and it was the meal. I make this also, but I do put brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. I use the bag sauerkraut, my mom used the jar, and we did not rinse the kraut. She cooked it all together. I cook the meat first and drain most of the fat water away. I do cook it for a few hours. We have this every year for the New Year. It’s to bring in good luck for the new year. We have German in our family as well and my mom grew up eating the same meal. YUM, YUM, YUM.

  28. Kristin

    Wow, this was absolutely amazing. Made it for German night with the friends and it was a huge hit (even with those who said they didn’t like sauerkraut). It was the perfect compliment to the beer brats and was really easy to make.

  29. Sylvia

    Aldi Stores here in Australia (a German food chain) were selling sauerkraut to clear. I grabbed some jars and used your recipe. Absolutely delicious. Here is Australia like to try lots of different foods from all over the world. I hadn’t realized just how yummy sauerkraut could be. Thanks for cooking advice. Just love it.

  30. Larry

    Elise, this looks great. I’m a huge fan of sauerkraut (comes from having german-russian family roots) and I can definitely appreciate the sweet/sour balance that this dish would give. can’t wait to try it as a side dish with sauteed pork chops and mashed potatoes.

    You can totally tell a person with true eastern european roots by how much they love/are passionate about sauerkraut. we ate it all the time growing up, with smoked sausage, pork country-style ribs, pork chops, german sausage…heck, even hot dogs.

    I will echo one sentiment from above tho…the sauerkraut in the bag (I believe the brand name is Krisp Kraut) is really good, just as good as (or maybe just a little better than) the cold jarred brands (I’ve tried both bubbie’s and clausen).

  31. johanna

    I LOVE sauerkraut! can’t have enough of it, I eat it raw or cooked, equally good! apart from the vitC content, it’s really good for your skin… or so they say.
    Although the addition of bacon is common back home in austria, I’ve never tried it paired with apple… sounds like a great idea!

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