Sauerkraut is German for "sour cabbage." Flavorful and nutritious, it pairs nicely with roast pork, ribs, corned beef and smoked sausage.
Sauerkraut is made by combining shredded cabbage with a brine of pickling salt and spices and allowing it to ferment. It's the favored condiment for the famous Reuben sandwich and also a great flavor enhancer for side dishes and casseroles.


Though many of us associate sauerkraut with Germany, it was actually a Chinese invention. It was standard fare for the laborers who built the Great Wall of China over 2,000 years ago. The technique was eventually brought to Europe in the 12th century by Genghis Khan.

Upon learning of its nutritive value, Captain James Cook took 25,000 pounds of sauerkraut on his second expedition across the Pacific. Thanks to its high vitamin C content, he only lost one sailor to scurvy in 1,000 days at sea.


Sauerkraut may be prepared at home or purchased. Precooked sauerkraut is available in jars and cans at most supermarkets. Fresh sauerkraut is sold at delicatessens and in plastic bags in the supermarket's refrigerated section. It usually has a milder flavor than canned varieties.

Storage Tips

Precooked: Store in a cool, dark place for up to six months. Once opened, cover and refrigerate; use within 5 days.

Fresh: Refrigerate and use within one week.

Preparation Tips

• To reduce sauerkraut's briny flavor, put it in a sieve and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.

• If fresh sauerkraut is too salty for your tastes, soak it in cold water for 15 to 30 minutes. Drain well.

Usage Tips

• Sprinkle sauerkraut with caraway seeds or crumbled bacon.

• Heat and serve as a side dish with roast pork, ribs or smoked sausages.

• Use as a topping for hot dogs and bratwurst.

• Mix with sour cream, dill and crumbled bacon and top baked potatoes.

• Add chopped apples and scallions to cooked, cooled sauerkraut and serve as a salad.

Nutrition Notes

Sauerkraut is an excellent source of vitamin C and some B vitamins.

Try one of our favorite sauerkraut recipes:
Turkey Reuben Sandwich
Pork Chops and Sauerkraut
Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

Suggested Pairings

apples, bacon, beer, caraway seeds, corned beef, pork, potatoes, sausage, sour cream, turkey