Making homemade sauerkraut is a super simple process: All you need is cabbage, salt, a fermentation crock, and plenty of time. But once you master a basic recipe, you can start to flavor your sauerkraut with other vegetables, herbs, spices, and flavored sea salts to take it to the next level.
Add Fruits and Vegetables to Your Sauerkraut
Adding fruits and vegetables to your sauerkraut is a great way to enliven its flavor. Root vegetables like carrots, radishes, and beets work particularly well since they stand up to fermentation nicely. Pomaceous fruits like apples and pears work nicely, too.
The key to adding fruits and vegetables to your sauerkraut is maintaining a ratio of about 3 parts cabbage to 1 part additional fruit or vegetable. For small vegetables, like little French radishes or garlic cloves, you can chop or slice them thinly, but shred larger fruits and vegetables.
- Carrots can give sauerkraut a nice sweetness and bright color.
- Scallions are particularly nice as they impart the flavor of onions without an overtly sulfurous flavor. They're also used often in kimchi.
- Radishes are an easy addition, and you can add thinly sliced French radishes or finely shredded Daikon radish. You can even make radish kimchi.
- Garlic is a brilliant addition and gives your sauerkraut an amazing, rich flavor. Add finely sliced or chopped garlic cloves.
- Fennel gives sauerkraut a lovely, subtle sweetness. Core the fennel bulb and shred it finely.
- Beets give sauerkraut an earthy flavor and a beautiful, vivid pink color. This recipe for beet and ginger sauerkraut has a fantastic flavor.
- Apples are sometimes served alongside sauerkraut, but you can shred them up and add them directly to the crock with your cabbage. They're excellent with caraway and juniper berries.
- Pineapples can work nicely to give sauerkraut a unique, fun flavor. This pineapple, ginger and turmeric sauerkraut is fun to make.
- Pears give sauerkraut a subtle sweetness and a very light floral flavor.
Flavor Sauerkraut with Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices can infuse sauerkraut with their vibrant and pronounced flavor, while also giving them medicinal value. You can find organic herbs and spices in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs.
- Caraway Seeds give sauerkraut a distinct flavor that's popular in Eastern European and German recipes.
- Juniper Berries are also often added to German recipes for sauerkraut, and blend nicely with apple and pear.
- Gochugaru is a Korean-style chili powder with a mild smoky edge, and it's traditionally added to kimchi; however, you can add it to sauerkraut, too.
- Turmeric gives sauerkraut an astringent note and a vivid golden color. It's nice paired with pineapple and ginger.
- Chilies are always lovely in sauerkraut, and it gives them a pleasant heat. You can add both dried and fresh chili peppers, and they blend beautifully with garlic and scallions.
- Ginger soothes and supports the digestive system, and it works well in sauerkraut paired with turmeric and black pepper or hot chilies and garlic.
- Dill, both fresh and dried, gives sauerkraut a fresh flavor and is reminiscent of dill pickles.
Flavor Sauerkraut with Specialty Salts
Sauerkraut relies on salt to both keep the cabbage crisp and maintain the right conditions for fermentation - keeping mold at bay while the lactobacillus bacteria responsible for fermentation take hold. Plain and additive-free sea salt works well for this purpose, but you can also add flavored salts and culinary salt to give your sauerkraut a unique flavor.
- Smoked Sea Salt can flavor sauerkraut with a rich smoky flavor that's intensely pleasant.
- Kala Namak Salt is a black salt used in Indian cookery, and it has a sulfurous aroma that works nicely in sauerkraut. Because it is an intense flavor, use only a small amount of kala namak along with plain sea salt.
- Red Alaea Salt is a vivid coral color and can give your sauerkraut a boost of minerals and a gorgeous color.
- Herbal Salts that blend both herbs and salt are fun to add, too.