It's more than just a topping for hot dogs and pork chops: Made the old-fashioned way, sauerkraut is a health superfood.

August 08, 2012

"I want all the bubbling and gurgling. Living foods breathe; that's just how it goes," says Alex Hozven, the owner of Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley. From pickled vegetables to kombucha tea, Hozven preserves things not by soaking them in vinegar, but by fermenting them with wild bacteria cultures. So-called probiotic foods like these are generating lots of buzz for their many health benefits (a remarkable trend, considering that "antibacterial" has become a selling point for so many other things). Of all the naturally fermented pickles Hozven sells, sauerkrauts are among the most versatile. They're also incredibly easy to make, requiring little more than patience during the six-week process. The best part of fermenting kraut at home—aside from the great taste—is that the food is guaranteed to be still living, which isn't true of all commercial versions: "Anything that's canned is pasteurized, and that process kills everything in it," Hozven explains. Try the recipes here to make sure your sauerkraut is alive and breathing.

Tips for Sauerkraut Success

Full Immersion "The most common error is not submerging the cabbage completely in the brine," Hozven says. "You don't want any contact with air."

Taste Evolution "Try the kraut at different stages to see its progression from one week to the next," says Hozven. "The longer it ferments, the more acidic—and shelf-stable—it gets."

Three Great Sauerkraut Recipes

The Kraut

Homemade Sauerkraut with Caraway and Apples

Serve with

Roast Pork–and–Mustard Sandwich

The Kraut

Indian-Spiced Sauerkraut

Serve with

Potato-and-Lentil Salad with Fresh Herbs

The Kraut


Serve with

Beet, Watercress and Mixed-Green Salad

More Delicious Recipes

Pickled Vegetables

Hearty German Dishes

Condiments for Sausages