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Better rinse sauerkraut

Published January 18, 2006 at midnight

Question: The great debate: I say not to drain the sauerkraut because you get more flavor. My husband says "it must be rinsed and drained then cooked." Please help. - Renee Eash, Houghton Lake, Mich.

Answer: Sauerkraut is thinly-sliced fermented white cabbage, excellent with sausage or roast poultry. It's made by keeping white cabbage in brine for about two weeks, kind of like when you make pickles, except for raw cabbage contains lactobacteria that cause fermentation.

Brine is a combination of salt and water; the brine used for sauerkraut also is usually flavored with a combination of herbs and spices, among them juniper berries and caraway seeds. When made according to the traditional fashion (that is, if you're buying it out of a barrel), sauerkraut probably doesn't have to be rinsed before using. USDA regulations for home cooking, however, add much more salt to the brine than is traditional. If you're making it at home according to USDA regulations, you'll probably want to rinse it before cooking.

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