By Beth Lipton
It seems like not so long ago that if someone suggested you drink kale juice, you would have wrinkled up your nose and said, “Eeew, really?” So bear with us here when we tell you that the newest trendy beverage involves—wait for it—the juice from fermented sauerkraut. It sounds really weird, we know—but trust us on this, fermented juice is refreshing, delicious, incredibly healthy and versatile.
First, the why: Like other probiotic foods and beverages (that’s you, kombucha and kefir), fermented kraut juice is great for gut health, may improve brain and emotional health, boosts immunity, and helps fight chronic diseases like cancer.
Plus, did we mention that it’s delicious? It’s salty, briny, pungent—all the savory, pickle-y flavors in kraut, but in juice form. Here are some tasty uses for it:
- Shoot It: Drink a small shot after a workout to replace electrolytes, without all the sugar and additives in so-called sports drinks. (Don’t overdo it; it’s very high in sodium, but a couple of ounces followed by water will perk you right up.)
- Dress It Up: Whisk kraut juice with oil for the quickest salad vinaigrette ever.
- Mix It: Add a savory, salty note to cocktails. A few tablespoons of kraut juice in a Bloody Mary? Yes, please. Try this one.
- Freeze It: Place it in ice-cube trays and freeze. Use the cubes in the aforementioned Bloody Marys, or have one as a savory ice pop while you make dinner to tide you over and get those digestive enzymes going.
- Fold It In: Add some to tuna, chicken or egg salad to give it a hint of pickle.
- Add It: Use it in soups, sauces, marinades; whenever you’re cooking and you need a hit of acid to balance flavor, try kraut juice in place of vinegar.
So where can you get these bottled wonders? Here are a few to try:
- Farmhouse Culture Gut Shot: We can’t decide which of the five flavors we like the most (all are organic). The 16-oz. bottles (sold for $7 at some Whole Foods and natural-food stores) come in Classic Caraway, Smoked Jalapeno, Garlic Dill Pickle, Ginger Beet and Kimchi. Smoked Jalapeno and Kimchi bring the heat, while Ginger Beet is milder and sweeter, and makes a fantastic lemonade mixer.
- Hosta Hill Krautonic: These handmade kraut juices come in Plain (ingredients: green cabbage and salt), Crimson (with green and red cabbage, daikon radish, onion, carrot, garlic and red pepper flake), Gochu curry (featuring a Korean hot pepper) and Kimchi. (All are $7 for 16 ounces, and sold online.)
- Biotta Sauerkraut Juice: This straight-up cabbage-and-salt beverage is organic, briny and downright addictive. (It’s sold in supermarkets, $7.59 for a 16.9-ounce bottle.)