Sauerkraut Origin: Cabbage to Fermented Delight

What is sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut origin, where does it come from? And in fact, what actually is sauerkraut? Sauerkraut is a delicious fermented delicacy that has been enjoyed for centuries. Made from simple ingredients like cabbage, salt, and water, this tangy and crunchy dish has a unique flavor profile that can add a burst of flavor to any meal. From hot dogs to sandwiches, it is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. But it is more than just a tasty condiment, it’s also packed with health benefits. It is rich in probiotics, and so can boost your immune system and improve gut health. It’s also high in vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants.

In this article, we’ll explore the history of sauerkraut, Sauerkraut origin, the process of making it, and tips for incorporating it into your diet. Whether you’re a lover or a skeptic, this article will give you a new appreciation for this fermented delight.

History, Origin & Background of Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut origin – where did sauerkraut originate from? Sauerkraut originated in China over 2,000 years ago and was eventually brought to Europe by nomadic people.

It is believed the Roman army carried fermented cabbage in barrels as a portable source of sustenance during their military campaigns. The process of fermentation not only preserved the cabbage but also provided a valuable source of nutrients for soldiers. After all, an army fights on it’s stomach.

The practice of fermenting cabbage then spread to Europe, particularly in regions that are now Germany and Eastern Europe. The German word “sauerkraut” translates to “sour cabbage,” indicating its sour taste resulting from the fermentation process.

Sauerkraut gained popularity throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. Its long shelf life made it a valuable source of nutrition during the harsh winter months when fresh vegetables were scarce.

Did you know it was also a staple food for sailors, soldiers, and peasants, as it could be easily preserved and stored for long periods? It was also used to prevent scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. The high levels of vitamin C in sauerkraut helped to keep sailors healthy during long voyages.

During World War I and II, sauerkraut became associated with Germany and was often referred to as “liberty cabbage” in the United States. However, it has been enjoyed by people all around the world for centuries, and it is not just a German dish. So as you can see the origin of Sauerkraut has now expanded.

We have included a link for Traditional German Sauerkraut, so that you will always have some ready to use in your cooking.

Traditional German Sauerkraut

Consistently delicious this sauerkraut packs a punch.

Made from white cabbage and salt this product is suitable for the vegetarian, vegan and paleo diet.

Contains Vitamin A & C, and is a source of calcium and iron.

28.5 ounces resealable jar.

Is Sauerkraut good for you?

Sauerkraut is a superfood that is packed with health benefits. It is rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that live in your gut. Probiotics also help to boost your immune system, improve digestion, and reduce inflammation. It is also high in vitamin C, which is important for immune function and skin health. It is also a good source of fiber and antioxidants, which can help to improve heart health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer.

Flavor Profile of Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut has a unique flavor profile that is both tangy and crunchy. The fermentation process gives the cabbage a sour taste, which is balanced by the saltiness of the brine. It also has a crunchy texture, which can add a burst of flavor and texture to any dish. The flavor of it can vary depending on the type of cabbage used, the fermentation process, and any additional ingredients that are added.

Cooking with Sauerkraut

A versatile ingredient, you can us sauerkraut in a variety of dishes. Use it as a condiment for hot dogs and sandwiches, or use it as a main ingredient in salads, soups, and stews. Try also adding it to casseroles, quiches, and even pizza. It is also a great addition to savory baked goods such as bread and pastries.

When cooking with sauerkraut, it is important to consider its strong flavor. Sauerkraut can overpower other flavors, so it is best to use it sparingly. You can also rinse it with water to reduce the saltiness and sourness.

How to Make Sauerkraut at Home

If you prefer you can also try to make your own sauerkraut at home. It is relatively easy and requires only a few ingredients. Here’s a recipe I thought I would share with you:


  • 1 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 cup water

Cooking Instructions

  • In a large bowl, combine the cabbage and salt.
  • Massage cabbage with your hands until it releases its juices.
  • Pack the cabbage into a jar or crock, leaving about 2 inches of headspace.
  • Pour water over cabbage until it is completely covered.
  • Then place a weight on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged.
  • Cover jar or crock with a cloth and let it sit at room temperature, approx. 70°–75°F (21°–23°C) while fermenting.
  • Check the cabbage daily to make sure it is fully submerged in brine.
  • Once fermentation is complete, store sauerkraut in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • For maximum flavor leave the cabbage to ferment for anywhere between 2-6 weeks (or until the bubbling subsides).

Different Ways to Enjoy Sauerkraut – Recipes and Ideas

Sauerkraut can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Here are some simple recipe ideas I thought I would share with you to get you started:

Alternatives to Sauerkraut

If you’re not a fan of sauerkraut, there are other some fermented foods that you can try. Kimchi is a Korean dish made from fermented vegetables like cabbage, radish, and cucumber. Kombucha is a fermented tea that is rich in probiotics. Or you could also try Miso which is a Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans, rice, or barley. These foods also have health benefits and can add flavor and texture to your meals.

Have a look at our substitutes section for ideas on what other ingredient you can use in place of sauerkraut.

Fun facts about Sauerkraut

  1. Long History: Sauerkraut has been consumed for thousands of years, making it one of the oldest forms of preserved foods in human history.
  2. Sauerkraut origin: It is believed it originated in China over 2,000 years ago. It was then brought to Europe by nomadic people.
  3. Vitamin C Source: During long sea voyages, sauerkraut was often consumed by sailors to prevent scurvy due to its high vitamin C content, which helped prevent the deficiency disease.
  4. Fermentation Process: Sauerkraut is made through a process of lacto-fermentation, where natural bacteria on the cabbage convert sugars into lactic acid, giving the dish its distinctive tangy flavor.
  5. Probiotic Benefits: As a fermented food, sauerkraut contains live beneficial bacteria known as probiotics, which can contribute to a healthy gut and improved digestion.
  6. Variety of Cabbage: While traditional sauerkraut is made with green cabbage, you can also find variations using red cabbage or other types of cruciferous vegetables.
  7. Cultural Significance: Sauerkraut holds cultural significance in many countries, such as Germany, where it is a traditional accompaniment to sausages and meats.
  8. Famous Pairing: The classic combination of sauerkraut and sausages, particularly in dishes like hot dogs and bratwurst, is loved by many and is a staple in various cuisines.
  9. Festival of Sauerkraut: There’s a Sauerkraut Festival held annually in Waynesville, Ohio, where visitors can enjoy various sauerkraut-themed foods and activities.
  10. Alternative Uses: Beyond being a side dish, sauerkraut can be used creatively in recipes like sauerkraut soup, sauerkraut-stuffed pierogi, and sauerkraut cake.
  11. DIY Friendly: Making sauerkraut at home is relatively simple and requires only a few ingredients: cabbage, salt, and time for fermentation.
  12. Health Benefits: Apart from probiotics, sauerkraut is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it a nutritious addition to your diet.
  13. Global Variations: Similar fermented cabbage dishes can be found in other cultures, such as Korean kimchi and Chinese suan cai, which share some similarities with sauerkraut.
  14. Funky Smell: The fermentation process of sauerkraut can produce a distinctive smell, which some people find off-putting while others enjoy it.
  15. Preservation Role: In addition to its culinary uses, sauerkraut historically played a vital role in preserving cabbage during colder months before modern refrigeration.
  16. Modern Culinary Twist: Chefs and food enthusiasts have found creative ways to incorporate sauerkraut into modern, gourmet dishes, elevating it beyond its traditional role.

These fun facts showcase the rich history, cultural significance, and nutritional benefits of sauerkraut, making it a fascinating food with a diverse range of uses and associations.


So now you know the Sauerkraut origin and how you can use it when you are cooking. It is a superfood that packs a punch and comes with many health benefits. Rich in probiotics, vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants, sauerkraut can be a great addition to your diet. It also has a unique flavor profile that can add a burst of flavor and texture to any dish. Whether you enjoy it as a condiment or as a main ingredient, sauerkraut is a versatile and delicious food that you should consider adding to your diet. So, go ahead and give it a try!