Caraway Sauerkraut: Why Add Caraway Seeds?
I have been making plain sauerkraut for some time now, but just started experimenting with flavored krauts such as this caraway sauerkraut in the past year. I recently decided to try sauerkraut with caraway seeds because I’ve heard it tastes good and offers some health benefits as well.
What Is Caraway?
Caraway seeds are grown throughout Europe and Asia and have similar properties to other spices and herbs such as anise, fennel and valerian. The “seed” is actually the fruit! It is used to flavor breads, alcohol, cake, cheese, soup, fruit, dips and of course cabbage.
A curious superstition was held in olden times about the Caraway. It was deemed to confer the gift of retention, preventing the theft of any object which contained it, and holding the thief in custody within the invaded house. In like manner it was thought to keep lovers from proving fickle (forming an ingredient of love potions), and also to prevent fowls and pigeons from straying. It is an undoubted fact that tame pigeons, who are particularly fond of the seeds, will never stray if they are given a piece of baked Caraway dough in their cote. – Mrs. M. Grieve (Source 1)
What Are The Benefits of Caraway Seeds?
- Caraway seeds have carminative properties–they help relieve gas by preventing its formation and helping to expel it.
- They are very soothing to the gastrointestinal tract and so helps with digestive issues such as stomachaches/indigestion. They have been used to sooth colic, earaches, and can also help heal bruises when powdered and made into a poultice.
- They are rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, selenium, phosphorous and potassium. They also contains a variety of vitamins including Vitamin C.
- Caraway seeds are helpful for high blood pressure, cholesterol, gallbladder and kidney issues.
- The oil in caraway seeds is antihelmintic and antiseptic, so they effectively expel worms and infections from the body.
- They are useful for women trying to increase lactation or jump-start their periods, as well.
Do I have to put caraway seeds in sauerkraut? Can I substitute something else?
You do not have to add caraway seeds to your sauerkraut. You can leave your kraut plain, or add a variety of vegetables, whole spices, herbs, etc. Some of my favorite whole spices to substitute for caraway seeds are juniper berries, fenugreek, and/or fennel seeds.
Fennel seeds will probably be your best bet for a caraway seed substitute in sauerkraut. However, you can also consider dill or anise seeds which are both more pungent. Mix and match based on what pleases your taste buds!
Caraway Kraut & The GAPS Diet
Sauerkraut made of things other than just cabbage and salt are allowed on the GAPS Diet. Any addition, of course, needs to be GAPS-legal and tolerated by the individual. The same rules as “regular kraut” apply–start with only the juice of the ferment if necessary and slowly work your way up.
Most GAPS patients have multiple infections including parasitic ones. These patients also have an increased need for vitamins and minerals. Fermented foods are a very important part of the diet, and sauerkraut is one that should definitely be included. If you suffer from histamine intolerance, get anaerobic fermenting vessels such as Pickl-It and ferment your sauerkraut for 12 weeks or more.
Sauerkraut is amazing for many GAPS complaints such as constipation, diarrhea, low stomach acidity, issues digesting fat, heartburn, indigestion, stomachaches, detoxification and more. The addition of caraway seeds definitely adds to these benefits.
Caraway Sauerkraut Recipe
- 2 1/2 lbs cabbage (approximately)
- 2-3 tsp caraway seeds (I use 3 tsp/1 tbsp)
- 12 g salt (approximately)
- Shred cabbage.
- Add caraway seeds and salt and mix well.
- Stuff into jar and press down as much as you can. Leave a few inches of head space.
- Close jar and let ferment for 24 hours, then check brine level. If cabbage is not well-submerged, you may need to add more water.
- Ferment at room temperature for 1-2 weeks (if your house is on the warmer side, you’ll ferment at room temperature for less time). Then move to the fridge where you will leave it an additional 9-10 weeks.
Yes, I ferment my sauerkraut for a full 12 weeks and it is delicious! If you are used to making sauerkraut in other ways, you can follow those fermenting instructions for the caraway kraut. It likely will not produce great results when fermented for a long time unless you are using a special fermenting vessel.