Enjoy this delicious Bavarian-style sauerkraut recipe made with caraway seeds. In this step-by-step recipe, you will learn to make old fashioned sauerkraut with caraway seeds in a mason jar. If you are new to fermentation, this is one of the best and easiest recipes to get you started.
Caraway Seeds in Sauerkraut
When you are looking at Bavarian sauerkraut versus regular sauerkraut, the main difference is flavor. Bavarian sauerkraut is slightly sweeter than regular sauerkraut and it contains caraway seeds.
Bavarian sauerkraut gets its sweetness from serving it with a bit of sugar after it is fermented. Caraway seeds also naturally add an herbaceous sweet flavor.
Anytime I make sauerkraut with caraway seeds and green cabbage I consider it Bavarian style. I consider regular, or plain German sauerkraut recipes, any plain green cabbage sauerkraut made without spices.
One of the most interesting stories about sauerkraut comes from World War I. In the 19th century, the United States received about 5 million immigrants from Germany.
Many German-Americans settled in the mid-west to live on farms, build businesses, and become trades professionals. By the early 1900s, Germans were the largest immigrant group in America. They built restaurants, businesses, banks, churches, and entire communities.
Then World War I began, and Germans were intensely scrutinized, subject to prejudice, and cultural erasure. Americans during these times became so anti-German, that they wouldn’t even call German foods by their given names.
Sauerkraut was renamed “Liberty Cabbage”, Hamburgers were called “Liberty Steak”, and frankfurters and bratwurst were dubbed “Liberty Sausage”. People actually believed that renaming German foods was an act of patriotism.
Why did referring to sauerkraut as liberty cabbage seem patriotic? Well, because people during that time thought that being anti-German was patriotic. Alas, liberty cabbage didn’t stick, and we still call fermented cabbage sauerkraut, as it should be.
Using Caraway Seeds in Sauerkraut
To make classic caraway sauerkraut, you must add the caraway seeds at the beginning of fermentation. I always add the seeds when I add my salt to the mixing bowl. This allows me to really mix the seeds in with the cabbage to evenly distribute the flavor.
You should always add caraway seeds to sauerkraut before fermentation so the seeds can release and impart more flavor throughout the sauerkraut as it ferments.
You can adjust the amount of caraway seeds you add to the kraut depending on your flavor preference. For a lighter flavor start with just 5 grams per quart.
The Best Cabbage for Sauerkraut
The best cabbage for sauerkraut is organic green cabbage. Any green cabbage will do, and you can also use Chinese (napa) cabbage.
If you cannot get organic cabbage, conventional cabbage works perfectly in this recipe too. Since you remove the outermost leaves from cabbage before fermenting, even conventionally grown cabbage is essentially pesticide-free.
How to Make Old Fashioned Sauerkraut
Homemade Sauerkraut is definitely the best type of fermented food to make if you’re new to fermenting vegetables at home. Sauerkraut is particularly easy for a first fermentation project because cabbage ferments extremely well.
The water content along with the microbial species richness of cabbage makes it optimal for wild fermentation!
For old-fashioned sauerkraut flavor and texture, you should use weight measurements for your fermentation ingredients. That means you need a kitchen scale. Weighing your ingredients gives you consistent and superior fermentation results. This is the scale we use in our home kitchen.
Fermenting Jars and Supplies for Making Old Fashioned Sauerkraut with caraway seeds
- 32 ounce Wide Mouth Mason Jar
- Fermentation Weight
- Standard Metal Mason Jar Lid (this can rust in the presence of salt)
- OR Rust Free Plastic Lid
- or you can use a Weck Jar (without the gasket; only use the clips to secure the lid)
- Sea Salt
- Mixing Bowl
Old Fashioned Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar
During the first few days of fermentation: carbon dioxide and bubbles will be produced. Sometimes mason jars will become very full of liquid, and this liquid can seep out. You will need to burp the jar.
- When burping the jar, remove the lid and tamper everything back down using a clean tamper or spoon. Make sure everything, including the weight is still submerged below the brine.
Always Trust your sense of smell: In the beginning fermenting cabbage smells funky. When fermentation is finished, fermented cabbage should smell pleasantly sour and like strong cabbage. Never eat anything that smells repulsive or yeasty.
Never eat anything that had mold growing on it: By following directions you should not encounter this problem.
After 3-4 weeks, remove the fermentation weight and smell and taste test. Your fermented cabbage should smell pleasantly sour. It should taste tart, salty and cabbage.
The Best Temperature to Ferment Sauerkraut with Caraway Seeds
Keep your fermenting cabbage at a temperature between 70-80 degrees F for best results, and keep the jar out of direct sunlight. If your fermentation temperatures are warmer and closer to 90° F, fermentation will just happen faster.
Does Old Fashioned Sauerkraut Need to Be Refrigerated?
After fermenting for 3-4 weeks, remove the weight and place a regular mason jar lid on the jar and refrigerate. Consume within 6 months for full probiotic benefits.
How Long Does Opened Sauerkraut Last?
Once you open your sauerkraut and start eating it, it will last in the fridge for about a year. It technically lasts longer, and is still good to eat after a year, you just might find that the texture softens and it gets more sour the longer it stays in the fridge.
Sauerkraut with Caraway Seeds
Sauerkraut naturally takes time. I recommend fermenting your sauerkraut for at least 14 days before eating, with 21-28 days being the best fermentation time for optimal flavor and health benefits.
By checking the progress of microbial stages under the microscope we have provided you with this handy timeline! If you follow our recipe and directions, your timeline of sauerkraut fermentation should approximately match ours!
24 – 48 hours: All contents in the jar should be submerged beneath the brine. At this time there are still Gram-negative bacteria and possible pathogens present.
48 hours – 5 days: After 48 hours you should start to see lots of bubbles being produced. This is when the ferment enters stage two of vegetable fermentation. Leuconostoc bacteria begin to thrive and Gram-negative organisms die off.
5 – 10 days: The bubbles in the brine will decrease, as the ferment leaves stage two and enters stage three. The ferment will become cloudy, the color will change and a pleasant sour smell will develop. Lactobacillus species begin to thrive in this time period.
10 – 21 days: Lactobacillus make up the majority or all of the microbial population. They produce copious amounts of lactic acid and make the fermented cabbage smell even more pleasantly sour. This is the time in which the vegetable mixture becomes sauerkraut and is preserved.
21 – 28 days: This is when you want to smell and taste test. Wait for the kraut to smell and taste as you like, and refrigerate when you find the smell and taste most pleasant! We like ours best when we refrigerate at about 25 days.
Recipes with Old Fashioned Sauerkraut
- Vegan German Sauerkraut Soup with Chickpeas and Mushrooms (Sauerkrautsuppe)
- Nutritious Chicken Caesar Salad with Brussels Sprouts
How to Make Old Fashioned Sauerkraut with Caraway Seeds
Enjoy this delicious Bavarian-style sauerkraut recipe made with caraway seeds. In this step-by-step recipe, you will learn to make old-fashioned sauerkraut in a mason jar. If you are new to fermentation, this is one of the best and easiest recipes to get you started. Try this sauerkraut in our easy sauerkraut soup recipe!
- Prep Time: 30 Minutes
- Cook Time: 0 Minutes
- Total Time: 30 Minutes
- Yield: 32 ounces
- Category: Fermented Foods
- Method: Fermentation
- Cuisine: German
- 550 grams green cabbage
- 20 grams unrefined sea salt
- 200 grams filtered water
- 5 grams caraway seeds
- Wash your fermentation equipment (jar, weight and lid)
- Remove the outer leaves of your cabbage and lightly rinse with cool water. Using a knife, chop the cabbage to your desired thickness.
- Place your kitchen scale on the counter. Turn it on and set it to weigh in grams.
- Place a mixing bowl on your kitchen scale and tare/zero the scale.*
- Add chopped cabbage into the bowl on your scale util the scale reads 550 grams.
- Remove the bowl of cabbage from the scale and set it aside. Place a small, empty bowl on your scale and tare/zero the scale. Weigh out 20 grams of salt.
- Add the 20 grams of salt into the bowl with the cabbage, and mix with your hands until the cabbage becomes wet.*
- Place your empty, clean mason jar on the scale, and tare/zero the scale. Make sure your scale is still set to grams and add 200 grams of filtered water to your mason jar.
- Add the 200 grams of water into the bowl with the cabbage and salt. Add the caraway seeds. Mix everything well.
- Starting with the liquid, add the entire contents of the bowl into your mason jar, and pack everything down using a tamper, wooden spoon, or your hand.
- Place your glass fermentation weight in the jar, making sure to submerge the cabbage pieces and weight fully into the liquid. If you don’t have quite enough liquid, place your glass fermentation weight in the jar and submerge as much as possible. Over the next 12 hours, the cabbage should release more liquid and you can press down your fermentation weight below the brine.
- Secure the standard mason jar lid to the mason jar.
- Ferment for 21-28 days, then remove the weight and refrigerate. Don’t forget to burp the jar daily during the bubbly phase.
*Taring/zeroing the scale with a container on it subtracts the weight of the container, allowing you to weigh only what is added to the container. After taring/zeroing the scale, the scale should read 0.0 with the container on it.
For softer kraut massage the cabbage vigorously in step 7. For crunchier kraut, gently mix the cabbage.
Keywords: fermentation recipe, Fermented Foods, Cultured Vegetables, Sauerkraut Recipe