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Sauerkraut gaining traction on restaurant menus


German cuisine has seen a resurgence on menus of late. Pretzel bread, housemade sausages, mustard-based sauces and spaetzle have all been noted as trends in chain or independent restaurants over the past couple of years. Pretzel bread alone has grown 10.9 percent in menu mentions in the last two years, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor. Seeing growth more recently in independents is sauerkraut. German for “sour cabbage,” sauerkraut is traditionally made by combining shredded cabbage, salt and sometimes spices, and allowing the mixture to ferment. Lately, it’s been gracing menus as modern kraut interpretations made with a variety of vegetables.

Here’s a look at some ways contemporary krauts are appearing on the menu:

  • Housemade pastrami, radish kraut, Spring Hill Farms white cheddar, Mendocino mustard and a McClure’s pickle (Farmshop in Santa Monica, Calif.)
  • House pastrami on a whole-wheat roll with wild ramp kraut, mustard crème fraîche and watercress (Bar Sajor in Seattle)
  • Germany sausage, a smoked chicken Weisswurst, beet kraut, quark spaetzle and sauce C.K. (Tête Charcuterie in Chicago)

Why should operators pay attention?

1. Kraut continues the pickling trend

Many thought pickling might soon fall by the wayside, but it’s still going strong. Consumers still crave the ultra-sour taste and crunchy bite of pickled foods, and want to try new versions. Don’t underestimate the power of pickled preparations!

2. There are extensive meal part opportunities

While sauerkraut may be limited to sandwiches and casseroles, operators have ample opportunity to spotlight modern krauts in a variety of other meal parts, including adult beverages, brunch eggs and even desserts.

3. There’s potential beyond German fare

Consumers may principally associate sauerkraut with German fare but these modern krauts have reach beyond the cuisine of western Europe. For instance, they have promise as a kimchi replacement in Korean entrées or as pizza toppings.

4. Ingredient types are seemingly endless

Virtually any vegetable can become a kraut, as lactic acid bacteria can ferment most ingredients. Thus, operators have a lot of room to experiment with different krauts on their menus and cross-utilize ingredients from other preparations.

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