AskDefine | Define sauerkraut

Dictionary Definition

sauerkraut n : shredded cabbage fermented in brine

User Contributed Dictionary

see Sauerkraut



, from sauer, sour + Kraut, cabbage


  1. A dish made by fermenting finely chopped cabbage.

Derived terms


a dish made by fermenting finely chopped cabbage

Extensive Definition

Sauerkraut (pronounced: ) is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. It has a long shelf-life, and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage.
The word comes directly from the German language, which literally translates to sour cabbage.
In 1776, Captain James Cook was awarded the Copley Medal for demonstrating that sauerkraut could be used to allay scurvy in British crews on long sea voyages. Currently, there is no evidence of its effect on human cases.
Sauerkraut is also a source of biogenic amines such as tyramine, which may cause adverse reactions to sensitive people. It also provides various cancer fighting compounds including ITC and sulphoraphane.

Health risks

It is well known that pickled food is usually rich in nitrites and amines, if not properly manufactured. The former can cause stomach cancer, the latter migraines. Although no direct report has been published stating that sauerkraut is associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma and esophageal carcinoma, prudent measures should be taken to avoid consuming the product with high levels of nitrosamines, which are normally found in salted preserved foods.

Similar foods

There are many other vegetables that are preserved by a similar process. Also a feed for cattle, silage, is made the same way.
There is a dessert known as sauerkraut candy which is a penuche made with coconut flakes. While this candy resembles sauerkraut visually, it does not necessarily contain sauerkraut as an ingredient.

Cultural references

  • The American soldiers in World War II referred to German soldiers as "Krauts", in reference to the sauerkraut which, as German soldiers were known to consume at that time by the allied forces, was typically bitter and sour. The word is still used as an ethnic slur against people of German descent.
  • During World War I, due to concerns the American public would reject a product with a German name, American sauerkraut makers relabeled their product as "Liberty cabbage" for the duration of the war.
  • In the USA, there is an annual sauerkraut festival held in Phelps, New York and also in Waynesville, Ohio
  • The area of Europe where sauerkraut is probably the most typical regional dish is around Leinfelden-Echterdingen. The town, where the Stuttgart Airport is located, holds an annual "Krautfest" around the middle of October. The event has taken place since 1978 and attracts as many as 40,000 visitors.

See also



  • USDA Canning guides, Volume 7
sauerkraut in Catalan: Xucrut
sauerkraut in Danish: Sauerkraut
sauerkraut in German: Sauerkraut
sauerkraut in Estonian: Hapukapsas
sauerkraut in Spanish: Chucrut
sauerkraut in Esperanto: Saŭrkraŭto
sauerkraut in French: Choucroute
sauerkraut in Ido: Surkruto
sauerkraut in Italian: Crauti
sauerkraut in Dutch: Zuurkool
sauerkraut in Japanese: ザワークラウト
sauerkraut in Polish: Kiszona kapusta
sauerkraut in Portuguese: Chucrute
sauerkraut in Russian: Квашеная капуста
sauerkraut in Finnish: Hapankaali
sauerkraut in Swedish: Surkål
sauerkraut in Chinese: 德国酸菜
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