Fermenting sauerkraut with chipotle is a very satisfying endeavor. This smoky chipotle sauerkraut recipe is the final culmination of a series of evolving experiments, during which I effectively zeroed in on what I consider o be the perfect spice balance. Sauerkraut lends itself well to various spice combinations and this is one I’m sure you’ll enjoy, if you like a little spice in your life.
For those who don’t know, Chipotle peppers are jalapeño peppers that have been smoked. As such, they impart a wonderful smoky, earthy flavor to dishes which include them. Although the peppers themselves are sometimes used in stews and salsas, this recipe uses a chipotle powder made from ground chipotle peppers. Chipotle peppers have some heat of course but this recipe is designed to take advantage of their flavor enhancing properties while not overwhelming the palate with heat.
A few years ago, I fell in love with a delicious smoky chipotle sauerkraut from Sonoma Brinery in California and it has persisted as one of the few sauerkrauts that I’ll buy in a store rather than making myself. Perhaps now that will change! Given the intensity that chipotle powder can have, it is important to find the right balance of spice to make this sauerkraut shine. While I often crave my basic sauerkraut recipe or my favorite Red Cabbage Sauerkraut, I love to play with different ingredients and spices, and this one hits the mark. The heat of Chipotle powders can vary by as much as 2x so the ultimate heat will depend upon your specific chipotle. If for some reason, it comes out too spicy for your tastes, you can do what I do and simply take half of the sauerkraut and rinse it off and then re-combine it with the half that you haven’t rinsed. Give it a few days for the flavors to re-meld and you’ll be in business.
When I started this sauerkraut, the initial pH was 5.32. After three weeks of fermentation, the pH had lowered to 3.51. I actually let this go for about 10 weeks in total and the pH lowered to 3.35. It’s not a requirement that you measure the pH of your sauerkrauts, but if you find the science aspects of fermentation as interesting as I do, you may want to invest in a nice digital pH tester like this one which I use. Besides testing your veggie and alcohol ferments, it can also come in handy with kombucha making. You can also buy these much less expensive disposable strips.
This Chipotle Sauerkraut recipe lends itself well to Mexican, Central American or South American food. Here are a couple of meals I enjoyed with this sauerkraut.