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Sauerkraut, raw, unpasteurized (sauerkraut)

Raw sauerkraut (sauerkraut) contains live, health-promoting lactic acid bacteria because, unlike conventional sauerkraut, it is unpasteurized.
Given the lack of nutritional information for this ingredient, we did not include it in the calculations for the nutrition table.
Macronutrient carbohydrates 61.39%
Macronutrient proteins 32.07%
Macronutrient fats 6.54%

The three ratios show the percentage by weight of macronutrients (carbohydrates / proteins / fats) of the dry matter (excl. water).

Ω-6 (LA, 0.1g)
Omega-6 fatty acid such as linoleic acid (LA)
 : Ω-3 (ALA, 0.1g)
Omega-3 fatty acid such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
 = 0:0

Omega-6 ratio to omega-3 fatty acids should not exceed a total of 5:1. Link to explanation.

Values are too small to be relevant.

To make raw sauerkraut ( sauerkraut ), you use pointed or white cabbage ( Brassica oleracea convar. capitata var. alba ), which is fermented with the help of lactic acid bacteria. Raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut is a valuable food in raw food cuisine.

Use in the kitchen:

Raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut has a firm consistency, similar to a coleslaw. Fresh sauerkraut can be used as a salad It can be prepared in a very sophisticated way without heating by mixing it with other vegetables or fruit and marinating it with oil (e.g. rapeseed oil or linseed oil ) andpepper . The addition of salt and vinegar is not necessary, as white cabbage is salted during production and brings acidity through fermentation. If sauerkraut is too sour for you, you can rinse it briefly with water beforehand. The taste can also be softened by adding apples , pears , grapes , or root vegetables such as carrots or beetroot . Vegan sweet or sour cream also has a balancing effect. Sauerkraut is usually eaten as a side dish.

Raw sauerkraut can also be used in hot cooking. Gentle heating for as short a time as possible protects heat-sensitive vitamins, but at the same time also leads to a higher vitamin C content . Part of the ascorbic acid is bound in the form of ascorbigen and is only released when heated. 1

Raw sauerkraut can be combined with mashed potatoes or with quick potato stews or pasta dishes. In addition to the traditional and regionally specific ways of preparing sauerkraut, a new trend is emerging: using it in smoothies, on pizza or in burgers.

In some regions, sauerkraut is thickened with a roux (butter and flour) or potatoes are cooked with it. Juniper berries , cloves , pepper, marjoram , caraway , bay leaves or sometimes mint , rosemary , fennel seeds , savory , tarragon and a little sugar can be used for seasoning.

Sauerkraut is internationally regarded as one of the most famous German national dishes. However, this preservation technique was practiced in many ancient regions of the world. The Korean variant of sauerkraut is probably kimchi, lactic acid fermented Chinese cabbage .

The sauerkraut juice produced during the production of raw sauerkraut contains vitamin C, lactic acid and lactic acid bacteria. It is also said to stimulate digestion. 2

Recipe for raw sauerkraut salad:

Ingredients: 500 g fresh sauerkraut, 250 g carrots, 3 spring onions (winter onions) , 2 small sour apples, 3 tbsp lemon juice , 1/2 bunch dill , 5 tbsp vinegar , salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp sugar, 5 tbsp rapeseed oil , 1 piece of lettuce ( endive orlettuce ).

Preparation: Roughly chop the sauerkraut, wash, peel and finely grate the carrots. Wash the spring onions and cut into fine rings. Wash the apples, remove the core, cut into thin slices and sprinkle with lemon juice. For the marinade, wash the dill, pat dry and finely chop. Mix vinegar with salt (depending on taste), pepper, sugar, dill and oil. Pour the seasoned marinade over the prepared ingredients, mix loosely and leave to infuse for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, wash the lettuce or endive and pat dry (or spin) and arrange on a plate. Spread the raw vegetable and sauerkraut mixture on top and enjoy.

Not only vegans or vegetarians should read this:
Vegans often eat unhealthily. Avoidable nutritional mistakes

Shopping - where to buy?

At supermarket chains such as Coop , Migros , Denner , Volg , Spar , Aldi , Lidl , Rewe , Edeka , Hofer etc. you will mostly find conventionally preserved, i.e. pasteurized sauerkraut . Fresh sauerkraut in raw food quality is now increasingly available, especially in organic shops, health food stores, drugstores, at the weekly market or on the Internet. Raw sauerkraut is usually available packaged in small buckets or bags. Direct sellers also sell it loose at markets. Unfortunately, it is still the exception that you can buy "really raw" sauerkraut in raw food quality: not heated above 42 °C, i.e. uncooked and unpasteurized, with live lactic acid bacteria.

Only in a few cases is it clearly marked whether the sauerkraut is really raw or pasteurized. Therefore, you should always look for explicit information on the packaging (raw and unpasteurized) - or, ideally, consult the producer directly. Sales staff often assume that this is strictly true because the wording is "raw" (and in big letters!). However, pasteurized sauerkraut is not declared for marketing reasons because it is not required - and this deceives customers who want to stick to raw food (not heated above 42 °C).

The declaration is very imprecise, especially at the large retailers. Often the note "raw" simply means that the fermentation was stopped by a short blanching or pasteurization and not by a cooking process. Additives such as wine, bouillon powder or seasoning are usually not included. In contrast to raw sauerkraut, however, the living lactic acid bacteria have died. The reason for this is the much longer shelf life: sauerkraut treated in this way no longer ferments during storage.

Homemade preparation:

If you want to make your own raw sauerkraut, you can easily do this at home on a small or large scale. To do this, first remove the outermost leaves, the stalk and any bad parts from the white or pointed cabbage. Then cut the cabbage into very fine strips with a sharp knife or chop it up on a special cabbage slicer. The cabbage slicer should be handled carefully as it usually has two very sharp blades one behind the other, not just one like the cucumber slicer. A large plastic bowl (e.g. laundry bowl) is good for slicing cabbage. For the last parts of a piece, use a knife to chop it up.

You can also chop up some carrots in the same way and add them, e.g. 5%, to achieve a sweeter taste and a certain color. You can also add mustard seeds , caraway seeds ,peppercorns , allspice, coriander seeds , bay leaves and juniper berries , depending on your taste. Add a little white wine to wine sauerkraut or wine cabbage (best after fermentation). For 9 kg of sauerkraut, a few teaspoons of these ingredients are enough, distributed evenly. A few horseradish leaves add additional flavor.

You can mix everything well by hand in the used tub. Add a minimum of 1% to a maximum of 1.5% salt. A little salt gives a better taste. To allow the salt to take effect, leave the salted and seasoned cabbage to stand for about an hour. It is important that the product, which now forms liquid due to the salt, is mashed into the intended fermentation vessel. A wooden cabbage masher or a meat tenderizer can be used for this. By bursting the plant cells, the cell juice can cover the cabbage well. The lactic acid bacteria necessary for fermentation are already in the cabbage and in the air.

While the cabbage was traditionally fermented in earthenware vessels or wooden barrels, today airtight screw-top jars are preferred. The brine must completely cover the sauerkraut during the fermentation period of 4-6 weeks. If this is not the case, mold will appear instead of the desired lactic acid fermentation. For this reason, an additional lid is placed on the fermentation material that floats on top and a larger stone is usually placed on top as a weight - or two so-called half stones with a hole in the middle. This lid must not leave too much space at the edge, but must be able to move freely. It is better if it has holes so that liquid is on top.

Now the lactic acid bacteria that naturally live on the cabbage can convert the sugar contained in the cabbage into lactic acid under optimal conditions (heat, lack of oxygen, salt, liquid). The fermentation process lowers the pH value, which extends the shelf life of the sauerkraut. The cellulose in the hard leaves decomposes and the sauerkraut is much more digestible than raw cabbage. 3

The resulting sludge, white slime or coating is skimmed off every now and then and a little salt water is added. The salt water must be saltier than the salted herb, e.g. 3-4 tablespoons of salt per liter of water, because the layers do not mix.

We recommend making small amounts of sauerkraut more often. For the first attempts, a preserving jar or jar with a rubber ring is sufficient. The Weck company was the first to bring such jars onto the market in Germany in 1900, which is why they are also known as preserving jars or Weck jars. They seal airtight and are also suitable for jams.

If you repeat this and want to make larger quantities yourself, then a fermentation pot with a water channel is suitable as an airtight seal, because you can also store the finished sauerkraut in it for a long time.

It is important to note that the container should not be filled completely, as the carbon dioxide can form foam and the product can overflow. To prevent mold, it is advisable to fill the water ring of the stone pot with vinegar water. When adding more water, make sure that the vinegar water does not evaporate too much. Before use, the container should also be cleaned thoroughly with vinegar. Sulphurizing would be the (conventional) professional method.

The best time to make sauerkraut is autumn, as this is when white or pointed cabbage is harvested and the price is lowest. You can live off particularly cheap bulk packs of white cabbage and sauerkraut made from it all winter long. A cool place is important for the shelf life, such as the cellar at around 10 °C.

For a 10-litre fermentation pot, you will need 9 kg of raw cabbage. This means you will need to buy around 11 kg of cabbage to compensate for the parts that have been removed.

Principles for manufacturing:

The three phases of fermentation in industrial fermentation:

  1. During the first three days, yeasts and acetic acid bacteria develop, consuming the remaining oxygen and producing ethanol, acids and esters.
  2. Then heterofermentative lactic acid bacteria (eg Leuconostoc species such as Leuconostoc mesenteroides ) are added. Lactic acid, acetic acid, mannitol and carbon dioxide are formed, which lowers the pH value. This inhibits the growth of undesirable foreign organisms such as clostridia. As soon as the lactic acid has risen to 2%, the lactic acid bacteria no longer work. The ethanol esterifies with acids, which forms an important flavor component. This process takes a further three days.
  3. Phase three lasts 3-6 weeks, depending on the temperature. The food industry adds homofermentative lactic acid bacteria that are even more acid-tolerant, such as Lactobacillus species such as Lactobacillus brevis. The storage life of sauerkraut can be increased by adding ascorbic acid or vitamin C at the end of the process.

Regarding the phases of fermentation: All bacteria are in the cabbage from the start. The phases automatically merge into one another (depending on the acidity, different bacteria dominate). There is actually no need to add bacterial cultures. What is important is sufficient salt (approx. 1.5%) and exclusion of oxygen. Then the right bacteria grow automatically at the right time and almost nothing can go wrong.

For making at home: A jar with a swing top is particularly practical. If there is excess pressure, the CO 2 can escape automatically. No yeast or mold will form, as the headspace consists practically only of CO 2 due to the fermentation.

You have to be careful with additives like honey or wine. These can interfere with fermentation. Honey contains antimicrobial substances and wine contains sulphurous acid, which inhibits lactic acid bacteria. These additives can be added after fermentation, as is also the case with industrial processing. Incidentally, sulphurous acid is added to wine separately so that no fermentation with lactic acid bacteria can take place. Unfortunately, this is usually necessary even with organic wine.


Raw sauerkraut can be kept unopened for four to six weeks when stored in the refrigerator. However, it is best to store fresh sauerkraut openly, as the bacteria are still active and the fermentation process is still going on. It will then last for about a week. Spoiled sauerkraut can be recognized by an unpleasant sour smell, very bloated packaging or discoloration of the cabbage.

Ingredients - nutritional value - calories:

Since real raw sauerkraut is not pasteurized, it not only contains a lot of lactic acid, but also the living lactic acid bacteria themselves. Sauerkraut has a very low energy density of 21 kcal/100g, is low in fat and protein, contains only a few carbohydrates, but a lot of fiber. Sauerkraut is also a good source of vitamins and minerals. 4

Vitamin K is very well represented in raw sauerkraut with 25 µg/100g 5,6 ; it contains a similar amount of this fat-soluble vitamin as peas or shimeji mushrooms . Green vegetables, herbs and salad in particular contain a lot of vitamin K: fresh parsley has 1640 µg/100g and chard 830 µg/100g. 7 It plays an important role in the blood coagulation system and in bone metabolism.

The vitamin C content of 20 mg/100g doesn't sound like a lot, especially since sauerkraut is often said to be a good source of vitamin C. Studies show that cabbage plants grown in winter contain higher concentrations of the ascorbic acid precursor glucobrassicin than summer crops. In addition, sauerkraut with a low salt concentration (only 0.5%) has an improved ascorbic acid (vitamin C) content after seven days of fermentation at 25 °C. Although the ascorbic acid content in summer cabbage is higher than in winter crops, the fermentation process in summer sauerkraut leads to a significant reduction in vitamin C. In addition, the highest ascorbigen concentration (precursor of vitamin C) was found in low-oxygen and low-salt (0.5% NaCl) sauerkraut from cabbage grown in winter. Ascorbigen, in turn, is released as ascorbic acid (vitamin C) when moderately heated. 8 Vitamin C is an important antioxidant and therefore essential for a healthy and strong immune system. A much better source of vitamin C is, for example, sweet peppers (184 mg/100g). 7

Raw sauerkraut also contains folate (folic acid) : 31 µg/100g covers about a tenth of the daily requirement. In combination with pulses and vegetables, which contain significantly more of this water-soluble vitamin, the daily requirement can be covered: mung beans , cooked (159 µg/100g); lentils, cooked (181 µg/100g); kale (141 µg/100g). 7 In addition to its role in the development of the central nervous system, folic acid is also important for cell growth in our body.

Vitamin B 6 (pyridoxine) is involved in many enzymatic reactions. 100g of sauerkraut contains 0.21 mg of this water-soluble vitamin. Pecans and buckwheat have the same values. Good sources of pyridoxine are pistachios (1.7 mg/100g) and corn (0.62 mg/100g). 7

It should be noted that the salt content in fermented sauerkraut is very high at 902 mg/100g. However, in addition to sodium (355 mg/100g), fermented sauerkraut also contains minerals such as potassium , manganese and calcium . 5,6

Health aspects - effects:

Fermented cabbage products (raw sauerkraut or kimchi) can support the immune system and cancer prevention (stomach, intestines) when consumed regularly due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ascorbic acid and aromatic compounds (such as gallic acid) are responsible for this. 9 Raw sauerkraut also has a positive effect on blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. 4

In general, the consumption of fermented and non-heat-treated foods is recommended. Raw, lactic acid fermented sauerkraut contains active lactic acid bacteria. Studies suggest that probiotics can shorten diarrhea, reduce cancer-promoting enzymes and have a positive effect on atopic dermatitis. Probiotics are used to positively change the balance of the intestinal flora by supplying living germs. 10

But there are also counterarguments: living lactic acid bacteria are said to be unable to survive in the acidic stomach environment. In addition, it is still far too unclear "which bacterial strain is beneficial to health under which conditions and for which people". 11

Fermented foods contain D-phenyllactic acid, which activates the HCA 3 (hydroxycarboxylic acid) receptor. This receptor has a positive effect on the function of the human immune system. Studies are still underway on the role that D-phenyllactic acid can play in inflammatory bowel diseases (such as irritable bowel syndrome). 12

Dangers - Intolerances - Side effects:

The histamine contained in fermented foods can trigger various symptoms such as digestive problems or migraines in the case of intolerances. 10

Raw sauerkraut is not suitable for supplying vitamin B12 , as it only contains trace amounts. Higher figures are based on old measurements that also included so-called vitamin B12 analogues. Despite having a similar chemical structure to the "real" vitamin B12 , the analogues do not have any vitamin effect. 13 On the contrary, they occupy the important receptors, which then cannot absorb vitamin B12 .

Folk medicine - naturopathy:

Sauerkraut is said to help to get the sensitive intestinal flora going again after antibiotic therapy.

General information:

Sauerkraut has been around for a long time. There are traditions that since 400 BC the ancient Chinese, Phoenicians and later the Greeks and Romans prescribed sauerkraut as a tonic.

Alternative names:

The English name remained "sauerkraut" for a while, but this is more likely because English-speaking soldiers in World War II derogatorily called Germans "krauts". Therefore, the English translation makes more sense: pickled cabbage. During World War I, sauerkraut was known in the USA as liberty cabbage.

Literature - Sources:

Bibliography - 13 Sources

1.BZfE Bundeszentrum für Ernährung: Winterzeit ist Kohlzeit.
2.Gorys E. Das neue Küchenlexikon. Dtv: München. 1994-2002.
3.Wikipedia Sauerkraut.
4.Aid Infodienst (Herausgeber). Gemüse. 21. Auflage. Druckerei Lokay e. K. Reinheim: Bonn. 2014.
5.DEBInet Deutsches Ernährungsberatungs- & -informationsnetz.
6.ÖNWT Die österreichische Nährwerttabelle.
7.USDA United States Department of Agriculture.
8.Martinez-Villaluenga C, Peñas E et al. Influence of fermentation conditions on glucosinolates, ascorbigen, and ascorbic acid content in white cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata cv. Taler) cultivated in different seasons. J Food Sci. 2009;74(1).
9.Özer C, Yildirim HK. Some special properties of fermented products with cabbage origin: pickled cabbage, sauerkraut and kimchi. Research Gate. 2019.
10.Biesalski KH, Grimm P, Nowitzki-Grimm S. Taschenatlas Ernährung. 6. Auflage. Georg Thieme Verlag: Stuttgart. 2015.
11.Watzl B. Leiter des Instituts für Physiologie und Biochemie der Ernährung am Max Rubner-Institut (MRI). Fachbeitrag: Schützen probiotische Milchsäurebakterien den Darm vor Pathogenen? Gesundheitsindustrie BW. 2011.
12.Peters A, Krumbholz P et al. Metabolites of lactic acid bacteria present in fermented foods are highly potent agonists of human hydroxycarboxylic acid receptor 3. PLOS Genetics 2019;15(7).
13.UGB Unabhängige Gesundheitsberatung. Sauerkraut: Nur frisch ein Fitmacher. Fachzeitschrift zur Gesundheitsprävention UGBforum 2016(6).
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