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.

Caraway Kraut: Why Add Caraway Seeds?

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

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Caraway Sauerkraut Recipe

This lacto-fermented sauerkraut with caraway seeds recipe will fill a 1 quart jar.
Course: Ferment
Keyword: Sauerkraut


  • 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.


Shredding cabbage: I use the smaller side of this slicer to shred my cabbage. It ensures great texture and taste for the kraut! It is easy to use and clean. Click here to check it out on Amazon!
Pounding cabbage: It is not necessary to pound the cabbage, but press down firmly as you are packing the jar to get rid of air pockets. The salt will do a fabulous job of extracting juices from the cabbage.
Sourcing caraway seeds: I use these organic caraway seeds, they have amazing flavor. Click here to check them out.
Measure your shredded cabbage and salt: This will lead to best results. Use approximately 4.5g salt per 1lb of shredded cabbage (weigh after shredding!). I use this kitchen scale to measure both. It switches between grams and pounds easily, is accurate, and holds a large glass bowl nicely while still allowing me to see the measurements!

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.

There are ferments that take less time as well, such as this spicy daikon or this chunky tomato salsa!

Let me know if you have tried any of these recipes. I love hearing your thoughts!

Source: 1, 2.

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  6. Rosita Chua

    I now understand why we need to add caraway seeds when making sauerkraut. Most of the videos I watched on YouTube didn’t explain why caraway seeds need to be added so I made my sauerkraut yesterday and only added dried dill weeds which some of it floated on the brine. Is it too late to add the caraway seeds? I could take the whole thing out from the jar, add the caraway seeds and dried dill weed at the bottom so they won’t be floating around and then repack the shredded cabbages. Will appreciate your advise. Thank you. The sauerkraut is in a 12 cup Kilner jar.

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