Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Trader Joe's Sauerkraut with Pickled Persian Cucumbers

2015: A year of a lot of achievements and milestones. Turned 33, celebrated sixth anniversary with my lovely bride, had a third and a first birthday in the house, hit the 100 pound weight loss mark, three years of the daylight job I tolerate, five years of the moonlight one I love (hint: this one!) complete with new podcast, and one, big, large, very expensive roof replacement job (ugh!).

On a much smaller scale of importance, but much more pertinent to this here review: I've learned to really like sauerkraut. Truth be told, I've spent most of my existence trying to outright avoid the pungent cabbage concoction that had me gag at the thought of it. but then: one night, at Hofbrauhaus, I forgot to mention I didn't want it as a side, so out it came. Now, I'm a believer in trying something you don't like every once in a while, just to see if you still don't like it, so I gave it the ol' college heave-ho....delicious. Then had it again on some kielbasa while apple picking when I "forgot" it might be on there. Then again at a church potluck. Then, on a whim, when out at Penn Brewery, the German-inspired brewery here in the 'burgh. Each time: Yum. Go figure.

Anyways, since it's New Years, and sauerkraut is a time honored tradition that's been with us longer than Dick Clark (I miss him more each year - go away, Ryan Seacrest), here's some Trader Joe's Sauerkraut. In the refrigerated section for $3.99. Of course, it being TJ's, it can't be played straight, hence the "with Pickled Persian Cucumbers" part tacked on. Also, unlike many store brands, this is raw instead of being heated to prolong shelf life before being schlepped in a can, therefore retaining a lot of the good bacteria that our tummies like after a weeklong Christmas cookie binge.

Well, that's all good and all, but how's it taste? Very...pickle-y. Especially those cucumbers, which are chopped up button style and intersparsed throughout the shredded cabbage thicket in each jar. Those bites straddle a line between cucumbery sweetness and garlicky wallop which can take you by surprise on first bite. The cabbage part isn't quite as pungent, but still packs a sharpness amidst the firm, crunchy shreds. Naturally there's a pretty decent amount of salt in here, but the garlic pokes through quite a bit, especially when any cucumbers are involved, making this a fairly different kinda deal from any other sauerkraut I've had, which admittedly isn't much, but still.

I could not pay Sandy to try sauerkraut. She just won't. But much to my surprise, her mom (who lives with us) did. She's...how do I say this?...very used to her foods being a certain way, and so, she bristles at most Trader Joe's offerings because they're not what she's used to. A shorter way to say this would be "picky" but that doesn't quite explain the depth this goes to. Yet, she tried this without much hesitation, when I asked her if she'd like to so she'd know if she needed to procure her preferred sauerkraut for New Year's. It had a little much garlic for her, but she liked it enough that we'll be splitting the rest of the jar come pork roast time. 3.5 from her. Maybe in 2016, I can slowly continue the conversion process....I don't like sad Germans, so I'm going with a near perfect 4.5 for this sauerkraut.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sauerkraut with Pickled Persian Cucumbers: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

7 comments:

  1. As a German I appreciate your comment. Nothing worse than a sad German. That said I am not a big fan of sauerkraut and never have been. Infact the only way I will eat it is in a Reuben sandwich.

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    1. Mmmmm....reubens......just made me hungry!

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  2. Lol. I would definitely eat this sauerkraut on a Reuben...and lots of Thousand Island dressing and cheese please.

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  3. I found this stuff right before New Years and went back for two more jars today. I hope it sticks around.

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  4. It was unavailable at my store yesterday and they were not sure when/if it would return : {

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    1. This is disheartening, the melodramatic "noooooooo" I just let out does not suffice.

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  5. This is one of my favorite TJs products. I've been getting it for a while now. From hot dogs to just eating it straight out of the jar, I go through a lot of it.

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