Kraut, Kale and Vitamin K

Reader Contribution by Kirsten K. Shockey

Winter salads require a different approach than the light, buttery spring greens, or the fresh sweetness of summer tomato salads — we want green and fresh, yet hardy and heavy. I find that a marinated kale salad adds that fresh green that we all crave so desperately and yet stands up to the rich warm casseroles and stews that we are eating. In this recipe I use kraut to soften and marinate the kale adding both flavor and probiotics. What I didn’t realize is that this salad is also rich in Vitamin K.

Why Vitamin K?

This post didn’t set about to be all about K, I simply wanted to share my family’s favorite kale salad. Then it occurred to me that both of the ingredients start with K and are high in Vitamin K. Vitamin K gets a lot of attention in a singular sort of way but it is actually a group of chemically related fat-soluble compounds that includes vitamins K1, K2, and K3 (which we won’t discuss, as it is a synthetic compound). Despite the belief that the benefits of these compounds are the same, they are different and play different roles in our body.

Vitamin K1 is all about liver health and maintaining healthy blood clotting; in fact, the origin of K comes from the German word koagulation. Vitamin K2’s roll goes far beyond simple blood clotting and is believed to play a part in preventing heart disease, ensuring healthy skin, building and maintaining strong bones, and supporting both brain function and growth.

Interestingly, vitamin K1 is the main source of the K we eat and is found in plants. Vitamin K2 is found in animal foods from egg yolks or butter, to chicken liver and ferments, yup you read that right: fermentation brings Vitamin K2 to the table. Natto (fermented soy beans) is quite high in this nutrient and fermented vegetables also add substantial amounts of K1 to your diet. So our little salad has a bit of both.

Kraut and Kale Salad

Serves 4 – 6


• 1 bunch kale, Russian red if possible
• pinch of salt (about 1/4 teaspoon)
• 1/2 cup Ruby Red Kraut, or any beet kraut
•1/2 small red onion, finely sliced
• 2 to 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar*
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1/2 cup fruit juice-sweetened dried cranberries, or substitute fruit juice-sweetened dried cherries

*Note on balsamic: I prefer the long-aged, thick, syrupy type balsamic as it coats the kale and has mellow sour notes. If using regular balsamic use a little less.


  1. Rinse the kale and cut into thin ribbons.
  2. Place in a bowl and sprinkle in the salt.
  3. Massage this salt into the kale until it is distributed throughout and the kale is slightly wilted.
  4. Add the sauerkraut and mix thoroughly. Allow this to sit for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile slice the red onion finely.
  5. Add the onion along with remaining ingredients and toss to mix thoroughly.
  6. Serve immediately, or if you have time, allow it to sit for a half hour to allow the flavors to continue to marinate. Store any leftovers in the fridge and it will still be tasty the next day.

Kirsten K. Shockey is a post-modern homesteader who lives in the mountains of Southern Oregon. She writes about sauerkraut and life — but not necessarily in that order. She’s written a complete book of Fermented Vegetables and maintains the website FermentWorks. Read all of Kirsten’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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