For far too many of us the New Year’s pork roast—and maybe the occasional Reuben—are the extent of our yearly sauerkraut consumption. It’s an unfortunate truth, but one that brothers Drew and Mac Anderson, and their brother-in-law Luke Visnic, are well on the way to changing. Their recipes for fermenting locally sourced cabbage with fresh vegetables can make just about any meal more delicious. And they were more than happy to share with us the story behind becoming the fastest growing fermented foods brand in the nation.
Just a few years ago Drew and Luke were each experimenting with sauerkraut in their respective homes. They really only had designs on satisfying their cravings for the traditional taste they grew up with.
“My grandmother is German. This was a way for me to get back in touch with those Bavarian roots,” Luke told us.
At the same time, Drew was living in Virginia and “couldn’t get that good midwestern fare.” So, he started fermenting as a hobby. After Luke got engaged to Drew and Mac’s sister, they hit upon a shared hobby.
“Over a beer or two we realized we were both making sauerkraut,” Luke said. They compared their processes, experimented and eventually shared their recipe with Mac, who was in college at the time.
“My housemates were like ‘what the heck is bubbling away in our kitchen?’ But come barbecue season everybody really enjoyed it…so we thought we could be on to something,” Mac said.
Flash forward to today when the three “Founding Brothers” are leading the #1 refrigerated sauerkraut brand in America, employing 45 (and counting) members of their community, and making millions of pounds of kraut that’s as healthy as it is near and dear to the hearts of the hard-working people in their area. Clearly, they were on to something with their take on this probiotic food. But, their success is far from beginner’s luck.
Drew and Mac learned to appreciate fresh, local products from a young age. Their mom started northeast Ohio’s farmers markets and brought the boys along to help.
“Child labor laws aside,” Mac joked, “we were out every Saturday morning schlepping produce and working with farmers and local vendors. It was a really cool way to grow up and get immersed in the natural foods and farm-to-table movement.”
They’ve carried the farm-fresh ethos into everything they do at Cleveland Kraut. From the recipes they create to the way they source vegetables; simplicity and authenticity are the name of the game.
“The majority of the cabbage comes from right here in Ohio. We’ve made really good partnerships to get the best tasting, healthiest, cleanest vegetables,” Drew said. “There’s just a better feeling knowing who you’re getting your product from. You’re buying from the farmer who grew it and so that connection allows more trust. That’s important to us.”
They know it’s important to you, too, which is why they want to change the perception of sauerkraut from that of a once-in-a-while side, to a fresh, crunchy vegetable you can eat every day. The breadth of exciting Cleveland Kraut flavors available make that an appetizing prospect to say the least.
Pick up a pouch of their Classic Caraway and you’ll find nothing but the bare essentials of crisp cabbage, salt and a little caraway. Or, go with Roasted Garlic—one of the top sellers—and get both raw and roasted garlic, cabbage, salt and a dash of black pepper. Add a little spicy heat with the game-changing, kimchi-esque Gnar Gnar, made with green pepper, jalapeño, leeks and sriracha. Bring beautiful color and classic flavor to your meals with Beet Red, featuring beets, red cabbage and carrots. And, last but definitely not least, give Whiskey Dill, made with garlic, dill and, of course, a splash of whiskey, a shot.
“What we’re doing is elevating the humble dish of sauerkraut. It’s salt, it’s fresh cabbage and whatever fresh vegetables and spices we’re using and that’s it,” Mac proudly pointed out. “It’s a great way to get those natural probiotics and actually enjoy eating them.”
A big part of what makes Cleveland Kraut’s flavors so enjoyable is the wide array of dishes you can integrate them into. Because they make something for every taste, you can make more of your meals that much healthier and more delicious.
If you’re only familiar with the stereotypical store-bought sauerkraut, you probably haven’t experimented much with adding it to other dishes. Drew, Luke and Mac have made it their mission to change that by sharing ways you can add their fresh and crunchy kraut to more meals.
“This is the best traditional sauerkraut you’re ever going to have… it’s great on hot dogs, pierogis.”
“One of our favorite 3-step salad recipes is some arugula, Beet Red and goat cheese. It’s an easy way to look like a gourmand at your next dinner party.”
“It’s a cult classic. A lot of customers like to use it on eggs in the morning. It’s excellent on rice dishes, fish tacos.”
“Roasted garlic is the perfect all-around kraut. It’s phenomenal with pork roast. And it kicks any salad or sandwich up a notch.”
“I eat this one on sandwiches and salads… it has the pickled flavor of dill, a little bit of sweetness on the back end from the whiskey and just a touch of garlic.”
Whether you’re looking for new ways to meet your New Year’s health goals, planning a gameday party spread or just want to add spice up your recipes with crunchy, flavorful veggies…
find Cleveland Kraut at your neighborhood Giant Eagle or Market District.