Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Cost of Homemade vs Store-bought Sauerkraut

I have been without a food processor since our move here to Virginia.  Ours was acting up in Boston in that it would turn on all by itself (dangerous!), so we left it behind.

Since we lived for over a month in a hotel with limited food and kitchen options, I decided it was imperative that we eat quality, raw, fermented vegetables to keep our gut flora active and healthy.

This meant I needed to buy them from the store.

Thankfully, the Wegmans here has an amazing natural food section, including whole food gluten-free options and raw fermented foods.

We absolutely fell in love with this Wild Brine Madras Curry Cauliflower Sauerkraut Salad. It is amazing! We also had already had Bubbies Sauerkraut several time, and knew it was quality.

Cost? $6.99 for each, both jars less than a quart.


For Christmas, I received a new food processor (yes!), and decided to do a cost comparison of the money saved by making my own sauerkraut, as I made a batch recently.

Supplies I purchased for this batch of sauerkraut:
2 pounds of red cabbage
7 pounds of green cabbage
4 carrots
1/2 onion
4 cloves garlic

Stuff I had on hand:
Sea Salt
Yellow curry
Caraway seeds

JJ thinks fermenting is fun!

Here is the per cup cost of the store-bought kraut:
$2.54/cup for Organic Curry Cauliflower Sauerkraut (2 3/4 cups @ $6.99)
$2.09/cup for Bubbies Sauerkraut (3 1/3 cups @ $6.99)

Here is what I purchased to make my kraut:
Red Cabbage: $1.50 (all @ $.79/pound)
Green Cabbage: $5.60 (1 1/3 heads @ $.79/pound)
Organic Carrots: $.46 (4 carrots out of a package of 20 @ $2.29)
Onion: $.15 (1/2 onion, 10 onions in 3 lb bag @ $2.99)
Garlic: $.13 (about 4 cloves)
Spices: $1.50 (4 T curry: $.50, 10 T sea salt: $.50, 2 t dill $.25, 1 T caraway seeds: $.25)

Total cost: $9.34

Wow. This made 5 1/2 quarts.

"Take my picture again!"
Per cup cost for the homemade kraut? 42 cents.

A couple of things to factor in:
Spices: The cost of spices is approximate. If you had to buy the individual spices, the cost would be more (Wegmans has small containers of spices in the natural foods section for $1.99/spice). You could also just make plain kraut with sea salt which would cut down the cost of spices and ingredients.

Organic Vs. Conventional: I wanted to do this experiment with organic cabbage, cauliflower, etc., but I do not have a Whole Foods close enough to get them.  The cabbage used in the curry kraut by Wild Brine was organic, but all the other ingredients were conventional. I did buy organic carrots (a preference of mine), but given that cabbage is on the Clean 15 list (conventional produce that is the "cleanest" after washing in terms of pesticide residue), I'm not too concerned about it.

Tools: My new food processor is fairly typical and cost about $100. Our last one cost about $50 and lasted 10 years. If you don't have a food processor, a typical cheese grater would work fine. That would cost you about $10 at Amazon.com or Walmart. The jars cost about $1.50 a piece this time of year, but you can get them for less than $1 during canning season.

Time: Some people might factor in time. If you're super busy or don't enjoy projects like this, you may ask, is it worthwhile for me to spend the time making this myself?  This might take about an hour to make, up to an hour and a half. It depends on how many varieties you are making (I made 4 different types of kraut).

Still, is it worth it to make your own sauerkraut, if you have the time and the resources? Absolutely. Even if you have to purchase tools to make it happen, you can easily make up the difference within a couple of years, if that.


Betsy said...

I am going to bookmark this post as I have been wanting to make my own sauerkraut. It is so expensive buying Bubbies each week.

Brenna Kate Simonds, Living Unveiled said...

Betsy, I wish I were still local! I'd gladly give you some jars.

Marian Hart said...

Just a suggestion from a Chef You can also shred veggies with a knife taking very thin slices from the veg it makes the fine slices without damaging the structural integrity of the cabbage so it also becomes less bitter

Gregor said...

I just bought some Wild Brine Madras Curry Cauliflower Sauerkraut Salad and instantly fell in LOVE! I am wondering how your copy turned out, and also how much of the spices did you use?