How to make sauerkraut

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Classic sauerkraut is a fantastic way to consume beneficial probiotics, keeping your digestive system, and YOU healthy. This recipe was sent to me by Scott from Zukay Live Foods. I’ve been making this simple recipe for years and it’s become a regular staple in our home. (Heck, we’ve even been known to put some in the RV fridge to bring with us on trips!) As fermented foods go, it’s really easy to learn how to make sauerkraut at home.

But first, why would you want to make sauerkraut? It contains a lot of good bacteria that

  • may kill off and take the place of bad bacteria and yeast,
  • during the fermentation process, the bacteria like lactobacilli actually create vitamins and antioxidants that weren’t there before,
  • help make the vitamins and minerals easier for your body to absorb
  • supports the physical and chemical digestion of food, and
  • they may even help train your immune system to work better by training it to better know friend from foe.

how to make sauerkraut photos

How to make sauerkraut

Print Recipe
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Classic Sauerkraut

Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Fermented Foods
Cuisine: Traditional Food Preparation
Servings: 2 -3 quarts
Author: Donielle

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cabbage
  • 2 tsp sea salt I prefer Celtic or Real Sea Salt
  • Non-chlorinated water
  • 2 tsp caraway seed optional
  • 1 large shredded carrot optional

Instructions

  • Peel off any older, discolored cabbage leaves.
  • Cut cabbage into quarters, and thinly slice into ¼ in thin, long strips.
  • Place all cabbage into a metal bowl, add salt and caraway seeds, and wait 5 minutes.
  • Mash with potato masher until cabbage starts to expel water and becomes flat and soft (about 5 minutes of mashing). Alternatively, I've also used my stand mixer with a basic paddle attachment (at a low speed) and it works well!
  • Once this is done, put cabbage into a quart-sized mason jar. Push down hard onto cabbage, until cabbage juice covers sauerkraut. If there is not enough liquid from the cabbage itself, add non-chlorinated water until cabbage is fully covered.
  • Close lid tightly and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 1 week, and up to 6 weeks for full flavor.

Notes

Note: Give at least one inch of space at top of the jar to allow for expansion from gassing from fermentation.

Equipment needed for making sauerkraut

Large metal or glass bowl – cabbage expands a lot after you cut it into strips! You’ll want either a very large bowl or you’ll have to work in batches.

Potato masher or large wooden dowel – to help release the juices from the cabbage you’ll use one of these to press and mash it

Quart-size mason jars – the easiest and least expensive way to ferment and store the cabbage. A simple mason jar with two-part lid is easy to find at most supermarkets and hardware stores.

Optional equipment

Stand mixer – instead of mashing the cabbage with a potato masher I simply put 1/4 of a head of cabbage into the mixing bowl, stir in the salt and let it sit for 5 minutes, then use a paddle attachment to essentially mash it for me! Super easy and only takes a couple of minutes.

Fermentation weights – These are essentially clear glass weights meant to hold the vegetable material below the juices, reducing the risk for mold. I bought the brand Pickle Pebbles (available on Amazon) though there are many styles and brands now available.

Airlock lids – the process of fermentation creates “gassing” and may cause pressure to build up within the jars (which means you should be checking them occasionally and releasing this gas when needed). These silicone lids do this for you – basically, a “Set and forget” type system! I purchased Pickle Pipes along with my Pebbles I mentioned above. (these are also available on Amazon) SImply use these silicone lids with the ring from a two-part mason jar lid set.

Donielle Baker

Donielle Baker

owner and editor of Natural Fertility and Wellness at Natural Fertility and Wellness
I believe women can learn how to heal their bodies & balance their hormones through natural methods. An advocate for natural health, I have a passion for nourishing/real food nutrition and natural living. My personal background includes both infertility and miscarriage and I started Natural Fertility and Wellness in 2008 in order to share all of the information I found helpful in my journey to heal from PCOS and overcome infertility.
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
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12 Comments

  1. Paula

    When doing it for up to 6 weeks, are there any tips for preventing mold?

  2. MacKenzie

    I tried this last year but unfortunately the recipe had a typo that said 2 Tablespoons instead of 2 teaspoons of salt and I missed the correction that was in the comment section until after I had waited a month to try it. Needless to say, it was a bit too salty! A few months later I was at a German festival and they had samples of it, made using the same recipe you posted. It was delicious and I had been wanting to try again every since. Thanks for the reminder and be sure to let us know how it goes.

  3. Gourmet Mama

    Is it possible to do this in a plastic jar? I have a hard time finding glass down here!

    • donielle

      @Gourmet Mama, I would think so. Just make sure you have a tight fitting lid!

  4. Renae

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I will have to try sauerkraut again! My Nourishing Traditions cookbook says 2 Tablespoons if you don’t have whey and it turned out way too salty.

  5. Scott

    Hi Paula –

    If you use a mason jar, mold shouldn’t be an issue. If you use a crock with a weight on top, it may be, if the air is in constant contact with the cabbage, especially in the early stages before it gets very acidic. It could also happen in a mason jar if the cabbage isn’t covered in liquid through the early stages (after fermentation has taken place, it doesn’t appear to matter – or at least, I’ve never gotten mold). If you do get mold, I would skim off the top half inch to 1 inch and toss that. What’s underneath should be fine, assuming fermentation has taken place.
    If you start getting mold after 6 weeks, my guess is that something went wrong. Well-fermented sauerkraut is hard to get moldy.

    Hope that helps!
    Scott from Zukay

  6. Rita

    If it gets moldy after the 6 weeks, should it be thrown out or will it be ok? This is my first try.

    • Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up

      @Rita, Rita, I think as long as you scrap off the top 1/2 – 1 inch, you should be fine to eat what is underneath as long as it’s not moldy as well.

  7. Elizabeth

    Should I use a plastic jar lid or two-piece metal jar lid?

    • donielle

      @Elizabeth, Most people use the two part lid to keep it free from outside air, though there are many different ways. My preference between the two, would be the two-part lid.

  8. Nicole

    What is considered non-cholrinated water? How do I know if my tap water is or is not? I use a britta filter? Should that be okay to use that water?

    • donielle

      @Nicole, If you have city water (and not your own well), the water you drink may be treated with chlorine. A brita filter is not usually enough to take it out (there are special filters for chlorine) so you can leave a jar or bowl (open) of water out on the counter for 12 hours or so to air out the chlorine. Another way to get rid of it is to bring the water you’ll be using to a boil for a few minutes and then let it cool down to room temperature.