Sauerkraut (English: pron-en|ˈsaʊ̯ɻˌkɻaʊ̯t, German: Audio-IPA|De-sauerkraut.ogg| [ˈzaʊ.ɐˌkʁaʊt] , Yiddish: IPA2|ˈzɔi̯.əʀˌkʀɔi̯t) is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including "Leuconostoc", "Lactobacillus", and "Pediococcus".cite book |title=Handbook of Fermented Functional Foods |last=Farnworth |first=Edward R. |publisher=CRC |year=2003 |id=ISBN 0-8493-1372-4] cite web |title=Fermented Fruits and Vegetables - A Global Perspective |publisher=United Nations FAO |date=1998 |url= |accessdate=2007-06-10] It has a long shelf-life and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage. It is therefore not to be confused with coleslaw, which receives its acidic taste from vinegar.

The word comes directly from the German language, which literally translates to "sour cabbage". Sauerkraut is a traditional German and Czech food, but it is also a prominent feature of traditional cuisines of The Netherlands ("zuurkool"), Estonia ("hapukapsas"), Latvia ("skābi kāposti") and other Northern, Central and East European cuisines, such as the Northern parts of Italy (Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Trentino), Romanian, Serbian, Croatian, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Hungarian and Belarusian. It is also part of the native cuisine of Alsace Lorraine in North Eastern France. Finally, it is no less popular in many parts of Northeast China, Northern China, the USA, Chile, and Canada.


Fermentation of cabbages in salt and acidic liquids dates back to prehistoric times and probably was described first by Pliny the Elder during the first century AD. Modern preparation techniques are thought to have been developed sometime between AD1550 and 1750.

In his 1772 "Treatise on Scurvy", James Lind discussed the ability of German seamen to withstand long sea voyages without succumbing to scurvy compared to seamen from other countries, and pointed to their consumption of fermented cabbage as a defining difference.cite book |title=Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Foods |last=Steinkraus |first=Keith H. |publisher=Marcel Dekker, Inc. |year=1996 |isbn=0-8247-9352-8]

In 1776, Captain James Cook was awarded the Copley Medal for demonstrating that sauerkraut could be used to allay scurvy in British crews on long sea voyages.



Traditionally, sauerkraut is prepared in a stoneware crock and the seal is created with a piece of wet linen cloth, a board, and a heavy stone. This arrangement is not fully airtight and will lead to spoiled sauerkraut unless the surface of the brine is skimmed daily to remove molds and other aerobic contaminants that grow on the surface where there is contact with air.

An alternative that avoids this problem is a type of ceramic jar that has a trough around its lid. When this trough is filled with water, the result is an airtight seal.

Glass canning jars with clamped threadless lids may also be used effectively.

Commercial-scale sauerkraut production typically employs large airtight plastic barrels fitted with one-way valves for the gas to escape.

Whatever kind of vessel is used, it must allow the escape of fermentation gases.


Sauerkraut is made by a process of pickling called lacto-fermentation that is analogous to how traditional (not heat-treated) pickled cucumbers are made.Fully-cured sauerkraut keeps for several months in an airtight container stored at or below 15°C (59°F). Neither refrigeration nor pasteurization is required, although these treatments may prolong storage life. However, pasteurization will destroy all of the beneficial digestive enzymes and lactic acid bacteria, as well as the valuable vitamin C content, so it greatly diminishes the nutritional value without any significant benefit.

No special culture of lactic acid bacteria is needed because these bacteria already are present on raw cabbage. Yeasts also are present, and may yield soft sauerkraut of poor flavor when the fermentation temperature is too high. The fermentation process has three phases. In the first phase, anaerobic bacteria such as "Klebsiella" and "Enterobacter" lead the fermentation, and begin producing an acid environment that favours later bacteria. The second phase starts as the acid levels become too high for many bacteria, and "Leuconostoc mesenteroides" and other Leuconostoc spp. take dominance. In the third phase, various "Lactobacillus" species including "L. brevis" and "L. plantarum" ferment any remaining sugars, further lowering the pH.

Salt (sodium chloride) is a major component in both the fermentation process and the flavour profile of sauerkraut, and typically is added in proportions between 0.6% and 2% relative to the amount of cabbage. For preparation at home, the USDA recommends a greater amount of salt than is traditional, making the sauerkraut unpalatably salty unless rinsed before eating. Such rinsing removes much of the nutrient content and flavor. When traditional amounts of salt are used, temperature control is critical, because spoilage leading to food poisoning can occur if the fermentation temperature is too high. However, once made, sauerkraut is a very safe food because its high acidity prevents spoilage. USDA also recommends pasteurizing sauerkraut for storage. This is not necessary if the raw sauerkraut has been properly made and stored, and will needlessly diminish the nutritional value. A slimy or excessively soft texture, discoloration, or off-flavor may indicate spoilage.


Sauerkraut is a common and traditional ingredient in Bulgarian cuisine, Austrian cuisine, Hungarian cuisine, German cuisine, Russian cuisine, Alsatian French cuisine, Dutch cuisine, Romanian cuisine, Polish cuisine, Czech cuisine and other cuisines of Northern and Eastern Europe, as well as in northern China. It also is eaten in the Friuli and Trentino Alto Adige regions of Italy, where it is called "capuzi garbi" and "crauti", respectively.

Sauerkraut may be eaten raw and unadorned; in this form it is often eaten as a relish with meat dishes, for example,as condiment on bratwurst, weisswurst, or North American hot dogs. Raw sauerkraut dressed with oil and onions is served as a salad, while warmed sauerkraut is also commonly served.


Variations include sauerkraut prepared from whole cabbages or leaves instead of shredded strips. Sometimes other vegetables such as carrots may be added. Spices may be added; caraway and juniper berries are traditional. In some variations, wine may be added. Red cabbage can be used to make a red sauerkraut. When sauerkraut is made from turnips or rutabagas, the product is called "Sauerrüben".

Sauerkraut has been a long-time staple in many European countries, e.g., the Netherlands, Russia, and Poland (raw as "kiszona kapusta" or in a dish as bigos), France (the popularity of the dish in Alsace has spread sauerkraut ("choucroute" in French) to other regions of the country), Latvia (popularly known as "skābi kāposti"), Estonia (known as "hapukapsas" and often prepared with cumin or cranberries), as well as in Lithuania ("rauginti kopūstai").

Common ingredients in warm sauerkraut dishes (besides those already mentioned) are bacon, caraway seeds, and apples.


Sauerkraut has long been associated with German cuisine, although other Europeans consume a large amount of sauerkraut and it has long been a staple of their diets.

A popular German dish combines warmed sauerkraut with "Schupfnudeln" (potato noodles, the German equivalent of gnocchi).


In Polish cooking, sauerkraut is known as kiszona kapusta. Preparations including sauerkraut include soups and stews, such as "bigos" and kapusniak (sauerkraut soup) or shchi ; filled dumplings ("pierogi"); and seasoned kapusta served as a hot vegetable side dish.


In Alsace (a region of France that was part of Germany until 1678Fact|date=October 2008 and again from 1870 until 1919), the traditional sauerkraut dish is "choucroute garnie" (garnished sauerkraut): a one-dish meal of sauerkraut, sausages, pieces of meat such as ham knuckle, and perhaps potatoes, all cooked together in goose fat. Typical accompaniment beverages are beer or white wine (Riesling).


Cabbage sauerkraut is a common addition to sausages and hot dogs, and its manufacture is sometimes associated with communities with certain European origins, such as Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, where it is produced by M.A. Hatt & Son Ltd.


In Bulgaria, it is used in various dishes, especially in chicken and pork stews. Sauerkraut ( _bg. "кисело зеле", literally "sour cabbage") is sometimes served when cold in salads, usually seasoned with oil and paprika.The Suerkraut salty brine ( _bg. "зелева чорба", literally "cabbage soup") is commonly used in Bulgaria for drinking or as a soup base, as well as a typical Bulgarian 'cure' for hangover.


In the Netherlands it is often served mixed with mashed potatoes, gravy and a smoked sausage.

United States

Immigrants to America from Germany (e.g. the Pennsylvania Dutch) and other European regions brought their traditional preparation methods and appreciation of this food, adding such ingredients as heimgriches, or "mountain lopers". Pork and Sauerkraut is an extremely popular meal for New Year's Day in Pennsylvania, an example of the culture left from the Pennsylvania Dutch. It is thought that eating sauerkraut on this day brings good luck. Sauerkraut's popularity in Europe and America continues today, although in somewhat reduced measure due to the convenience of modern alternative preserving methods.Fact|date=May 2008

Kraut juice is a regional beverage in the USA that consists of the liquid in which sauerkraut is cured. It is the juice of the vegetable itself and the pickling brine.

Sauerkraut is a key ingredient in the Reuben sandwich. It is also a popular topping for sausages such as bratwurst and hot dogs.

East Asia

Sauerkraut is similar to many ancient Northeastern Asian dishes, including Korean kimchi and other fermented vegetables. In Northeast China, people make the same dish called "suancai", which also literally translates as, "sour vegetable".


In Russia, sour berries such as cranberry, or bits of finely chopped vegetables and fruit, such as carrots or apples, may be added prior to fermenting to enhance flavour. Beets also may be added to give the cabbage a red color. Sauerkraut ( _ru. "квашеная капуста", literally "soured cabbage") is often served with sugar or vegetable (mostly sunflower) oil.

outh America

Many people in Argentina also eat sauerkraut, and in Chile, as "chucrut", is part of the popular "porgusto", a french bread that (usually, but ingredients may vary) combines it with tap water and eggplant.

Health and nutrition

Health benefits

Raw sauerkraut is an extremely healthy food. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, lactobacilli, and other nutrients. However, the low pH and abundance of healthful lactobacilli may upset the intestines of people who are not used to eating acidic foods. (In such cases, it is advisable to eat small amounts daily until the person's digestive system adjusts).

Before frozen foods and the importation of foods from the Southern hemisphere became readily available in northern and central Europe, sauerkraut provided a vital source of the aforementioned nutrients during the winter. Captain James Cook always took a store of sauerkraut on his sea voyages, since experience had taught him that it was an effective preventative of scurvy [see / "What did they eat?" which begins "One of Cook’s most important discoveries..." and which additionally mentions "...citrus fruit such as lemons and lime. James Cook ...."] [cite journal |author=Saloheimo P |title= [Captain Cook used sauerkraut to prevent scurvy] |language=Finnish |journal=Duodecim |volume=121 |issue=9 |pages=1014–5 |year=2005 |pmid=15991750 |doi= |url=] .

It is now known that the preservation of sauerkraut in an anaerobic environment (in the brine) keeps the vitamin C in it from being oxidized. Clarifyme|date=October 2008 There is some evidence that indicates that kimchi, and by extension, sauerkraut may be used to treat avian influenza in birds. [cite web |title=BBC News — Korean dish ‘may cure bird flu’ |url= |accessdate=13 February |accessyear=2008] Currently, there is no evidence of its effect on human cases.

Sauerkraut is also a source of biogenic amines such as tyramine, which may cause adverse reactions to sensitive people. [cite web |title=British Nutrition Foundation |url= |accessdate=13 February |accessyear=2008] [cite web |title=The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) : Your guide to food safety & quality and health & nutrition for a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. |url= |accessdate=13 February |accessyear=2008] It also provides various cancer fighting compounds including ITC and sulphoraphane. [cite web |title=RD - simple ways to prevent cancer |url=]

Health risks

It is well known that pickled food is usually rich in nitrites and amines, if not properly manufactured.cite journal
last = Moret
first = Sabrina "et al."
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = A survey on free biogenic amine content of fresh and preserved vegetables
journal = Food Chemistry
volume = 89
issue = 3
pages = 355–361
publisher = Elsevier
location =
date = 2005
url =
doi = 10.1016/j.foodchem.2004.02.050
id =
accessdate = 7 November
accessyear = 2007
] cite journal
last = Pu
first = C. "et al."
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Research on the dynamic variation and elimination of nitrite content in sauerkraut during pickling
journal = Wei Sheng Yan Jiu
volume = 30
issue = 6
pages = 352–4
publisher =
location =
date = 2001 |month=November |pmid=12561618
doi =
id =
] The former can cause stomach cancer, the latter migraines.cite journal
last = Wantke
first = F. "et al."
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Histamine-free diet: treatment of choice for histamine-induced food intolerance and supporting treatment for chronical headaches
journal = Clinical & Experimental Allergy
volume = 23
issue = 12
pages = 982–5
publisher = Blackwell Publishing
location =
date = 1993 |month=Dec |pmid=10779289
url =
doi = 10.1111/j.1365-2222.1993.tb00287.x
id =
] Although no direct report has been published stating that sauerkraut is associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma and esophageal carcinoma, prudent measures should be taken to avoid consuming the product with high levels of nitrosamines, which are normally found in salted preserved foods.cite journal
last = Ward
first = Mary H. "et al."
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Dietary exposure to nitrite and nitrosamines and risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma in Taiwan
journal = International Journal of Cancer
volume = 86
issue = 5
pages = 603–9
publisher = John Wiley & Sons
location =
date = 2000 |month=Jun |pmid=10797279
url =
doi = 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0215(20000601)86:5<603::AID-IJC1>3.0.CO;2-H
] cite journal
last = Chang
first = Ellen T.
authorlink =
coauthors = Hans-Olov Adami
title = The Enigmatic Epidemiology of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
journal = Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention
volume = 15
issue =
pages = 1765–77
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date = 2006 |month=Oct |pmid=17035381 |doi=10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-06-0353
] cite journal
last = Hung
first = Hsin-chia "et al."
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Association between diet and esophageal cancer in Taiwan
journal = Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
volume = 19
issue = 6
pages = 632–7
publisher =
location =
date = 2004 |month=Jun |pmid=15151616
url =
doi = 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2004.03346.x
] cite journal
last = Siddiqi
first = Maqsood
authorlink =
coauthors = R. Preussmann
title = Esophageal cancer in Kashmir — an assessment
journal = Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology
volume = 115
issue = 2
pages = 111–7
publisher = Springer
location =
date = 1989 |pmid=2715165
url =
doi = 10.1007/BF00397910
id =
accessdate = 8 November
accessyear = 2007

imilar foods

There are many other vegetables that are preserved by a similar process.
* Korean kimchi
* Japanese tsukemono
* Filipino atchara
* Manchurian suan caiAlso a feed for cattle, silage, is made the same way.

There is a dessert known as sauerkraut candy which is a penuche made with coconut flakes. While this candy resembles sauerkraut visually, it does not necessarily contain sauerkraut as an ingredient. [cite web |title=Uncle Phaedrus, Finder of Lost Recipes |url= |accessdate=2008-02-13]

Cultural references

* The American soldiers in World War II referred to German soldiers as "Krauts", in reference to the sauerkrautFact|date=May 2008 which, as German soldiers were known to consume at that time by the allied forces, was typically bitter and sour. The word is still used as an ethnic slur against people of German descent.
* During World War I, due to concerns the American public would reject a product with a German name, American sauerkraut makers relabeled their product as "Liberty cabbage" for the duration of the war.Fact|date=May 2008
* In the USA, there is an annual sauerkraut festival held in [ Phelps, New York] and also in [ Waynesville, Ohio]
* The area of Europe where sauerkraut is probably the most typical regional dish is around Leinfelden-Echterdingen. The town, where the Stuttgart Airport is located, holds an annual "Krautfest" around the middle of October. The event has taken place since 1978 and attracts as many as 40,000 visitors.

ee also

* Foods containing tyramine
* Pickling
* Kimchi
* Kraut
* Bratwurst ("Bratwurst", "Sauerkraut", and "potatoes" being a traditional dish in various parts of the German-speaking world)



* "USDA Canning guides", Volume 7
* cite web
title = rec.foods.preserving FAQ
url =
accessdate = 2006-04-23

* cite book
title = Keeping Food Fresh: Old World Techniques & Recipes
last = Aubert
first = Claude
publisher = Chelsea Green Publishing Company
year = 1999

* cite book
title = Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods
last = Katz
first = Sandor Ellix
publisher = Chelsea Green Publishing Company
year = 2003
url =
accessdate = 2006-04-23

External links

* [ German Food Guide: Sauerkraut]
* [ 12 International Sauerkraut Recipes]
* [ Korean dish 'may cure bird flu']
* [ Wild Fermentation recipe for making sauerkraut]
* [ The Sauerkraut Fermentation described here]
* [ Fermenting food since before H. sapiens appeared]
* [ Official L-E Krautfest Homepage]
* [ Photo Tutorial on Making Sauerkraut and KimChi]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sauerkraut — Sauerkraut …   Deutsch Wörterbuch

  • sauerkraut — (n.) 1610s, from Ger. Sauerkraut, lit. sour cabbage, from sauer sour + Kraut vegetable, cabbage, from O.H.G. krut, from P.Gmc. *kruthan. They pickle it [cabbage] up in all high Germany, with salt and barberies, and so keepe it all the yeere,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Sauerkraut — Sauer kraut , n. [G., fr. sauer sour + kraut herb, cabbage.] Cabbage cut fine and allowed to ferment in a brine made of its own juice with salt, a German dish. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Sauerkraut — Sauerkraut, 1) (Sauerkohl), entsteht durch saure Gährung des mit Salz eingelegten klein gehobelten od. geschnittenen Weißkohles od. Weißkrautes. Die saure Gährung darf nicht durch Zutritt von Luft u. unangemessene Wärme in die faulige Gährung… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Sauerkraut — Sauerkraut, s. Kohl …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Sauerkraut — Sauerkraut, Sauerkohl, roh eingesalzener und dadurch in saure Gärung gebrachter Weißkohl …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Sauerkraut — Sauerkraut. Die Bereitung und der Gebrauch dieses Nahrungsmittels in der Küche dürfte wohl jeder Hausfrau bekannt sein, vielleicht aber nicht, daß in neuerer Zeit ein Doctor Huhn in Moskau den Versuch gemacht hat, dasselbe zu trocknen. Zu diesem… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • sauerkraut — → chucrut …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • sauerkraut — ► NOUN ▪ a German dish of chopped pickled cabbage. ORIGIN German, from sauer sour + Kraut vegetable …   English terms dictionary

  • sauerkraut — ☆ sauerkraut [sou′ər krout΄ ] n. [Ger < sauer, SOUR + kraut, cabbage] chopped cabbage fermented in a brine of its own juice with salt …   English World dictionary

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