Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe

Homemade sauerkraut, in all its funky humility, is a favorite food in our home – particularly in wintertime when fresh, local produce is a rare treat and we rely on what we’ve put by over the summer and autumn months.  For us, this means lots of fermented foods and sauerkraut in particular.

We grow cabbage in our tiny plot in the community garden, and I’ve a preference for the more whimsical heirloom varieties – Wakefield cabbages with their conical heads and Shoshudori cabbages with their wide and flat ones.  I love the crinkled Savoys and the brilliant hue of Mammoth Red Rocks.  Cabbages are lovely things, indeed.   While these varieties aren’t found in most garden supply centers, you can typically can find them from seed saving enthusiasts or specialty seed houses.  They grow well at high altitude where frost lingers until mid-June and begins to threaten gardens again in late August.

So, when the time comes, we harvest ours and peel back the rough outer leaves that blanket the tender heads, core them, shred them fine, salt them and let them sour on the countertop for weeks and sometimes months until they acquire the requisite funk that only true fermented foods enthusiasts love, and that – cabbage, salt and time – is all you need for a truly wonderful homemade sauerkraut.  We serve our sauerkraut throughout winter, with sausages and preserved meats in choucroute garnie, on its own or dropped by the spoonful into bowls of steaming lentil stew - welcome nourishment for cold and dark days. Of course, planning for homemade sauerkraut takes time – it’s something you start now in late summer and in autumn that will nourish your family until spring.

Homemade Sauerkraut: Optimal Nourishment for Dark Dayshomemade sauerkraut recipe

Homemade sauerkraut takes time – a week for the impatient and months for those who love their sauerkraut with the same fervor that an oenophile devotes to wine.  Originally, the production of sauerkraut served the primary purpose of preserving the harvest into the winter when food was scarce and hunger a true threat.  Sauerkraut is a peasant food, humble, disparaged, but truly lovely when produced with tenderness and the passion only a true real food lover can provide.

So while European peasants preserved their cabbage with salt in an effort to keep hunger away during the dark months, their method of preservation fulfilled another need: that of optimal nourishment. The process of lactic acid fermentation used to transform salt and cabbage into sauerkraut increases vitamins, particularly vitamin C and B vitamins, and food enzymes.  Moreover, homemade sauerkraut is also extraordinarily rich in beneficial bacteria – friendly microorganisms which help to colonize the gut, train the immune system and manufacture vitamins in the digestive tract.  In winter, when colds and flus make their rounds, homemade fermented foods which provide plenty of vitamins, food enzymes and beneficial bacteria coupled with fermented cod liver oil (see sources).

Finding the Right Crock for Your Homemade Sauerkraut

If you’re like me, you began fermenting foods like homemade sauerkraut in mason jars for want of something better – and while mason jars work fine for small quantities of fermented foods, they’re not optimally suited to fermentation.  Fermentation is an anaerobic process and when fermented foods are exposed to air, as they often are when fermented in open crocks and mason jars, they run a very real risk of being contaminated by stray microbes, yeasts and molds.  Creating a true anaerobic environment by using the right crock or fermentation device results in better sauerkraut, less contamination and fewer failed batches. So if you’re committed to preparing fermented foods for your family: either as a method of old-world food preservation or for their health benefits, investing in a good crock is essential.

You can typically find fermentation crocks online (see sources) – some are glass jars fitted with airlocks (like this one) which helps to maintain that anaerobic environment essential to proper fermentation; others are traditional ceramic or stoneware crocks equipped with a heavy weight (to keep fermenting foods completely submerged in brine, thus creating an anaerobic environment) and a lid.  Both function well though the traditional ceramic and stoneware crocks typically have a larger capacity than glass fermenting jars equipped with airlocks.

 

Homemade Sauerkraut

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1 gallon

Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Homemade Sauerkraut

A simple recipe to make traditional, lacto-fermented, homemade sauerkraut using only cabbage, salt and time.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Toss cabbage and salt together in a large mixing bowl and begin to squeeze the cabbage and salt together with your hands, kneading it thoroughly to break up the cellular structure of the shredded cabbage.
  2. When the cabbage has become limp and releases its juice, transfer it to a sauerkraut crock or vegetable fermenter (available here). Pack the salted cabbage into the crock or fermenter as tightly as you can, eliminating air bubbles. A kraut pounder (available here) is particularly helpful in packing the cabbage tight within the crock.
  3. Continue packing the cabbage into the container until the cabbage is completely submerged by liquid. Cover loosely and allow it to sit at room temperature, undisturbed, for at least 1 month and up to 6 months, testing the sauerkraut every few days until it is done to your liking. Transfer to the refrigerator or other cold storage where it should keep for at least 6 months and up to 1 year.

Notes

If scum appears floating in the brine of your homemade sauerkraut, simply spoon it off. You won’t be able to remove it all, but spoon of what you can and don’t worry about. The real key to preparing homemade sauerkraut, and any fermented food, is that the solid materials rest below the liquid. Fermentation is an anaerobic process and to expose your ferments to air increases the likelihood that they’ll become contaminated by stray microbes, yeasts and molds which is why crocks designed specifically for fermentation (like this one) can help to eliminate the risk of microbial contamination and increase the reliability and consistency of your ferments.

http://nourishedkitchen.com/homemade-sauerkraut/

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What people are saying

  1. victoria says

    I made this two weeks ago but my kraut is still very very salty and not sour at all. I used 1 chinese cabbage head and 1 tablespoon sea salt and packed it into a mason jar since I had nothing else.

    • Rita Sleys says

      Too much salt to cabbage. I use only 1 *teaspoon* of sea salt for each quart mason jars worth of cabbage and it starts bubbling and fermenting within a few hours.

      • Steve Horsfall says

        I use 2% salt by weight, which seems to work well, though some recipes say twice that. I’ve just started a new batch, with 4kgs cabbage, and 80gms sea-salt.

    • says

      Hi Victoria.
      Sauerkraut to salty! Means it is too much salt :-( “100 gram salt to 5 kg sliced cabbage is the basic” Mix salt with sliced cabbage roughly and put mix in a container. Put at least 3 layers of outer leaves on top and them and linen, wood and a clean rock. Wash rock, wood and linen once a week, (use hot water
      Best regards George

    • Lois says

      I use The Perfect Pickler for my kraut. I have never had a bad batch and it take approximately 7 days to turn a head of cabbage and sea salt into wonderful kraut.

    • Karen says

      in general, I start my ferments off with approximately 3 TBSP sea salt for every 5 Lbs cabbage. Just remember to weigh the thing at the store (or be sure to save your receipt) before you buy, or at the farmers market, just find someone with a scale to check it out.

  2. Marly says

    What do you use to shred your cabbage? I have been wanting to try this for some time now and have never gotten to it.

  3. victoria says

    I made a new batch with 1 head of regular green cabbage and 1 tablespoon salt packed into a large mason jar. The smell is atrocious! The first few days the jar leaked and I had to open it to relieve the pressure, there was a lot of foam. It has calmed down now and smells terrible. The juice tastes very very sour. Am I doing this right!?!?

    • jenny says

      If it smells like someone let a wicked fart loose in your kitchen, you’re on the right track. ;) It should taste very sour, but once it achieves the sourness you like, move it to the fridge or it will continue to become more and more sour. Be careful about tightening the lid too much, as the CO2 can build up.

      • victoria says

        It does sound like the right track then, because that’s exactly what it smells like! I’m soo glad this second batch worked out—I think I used too much salt for that last batch and I read that too much salt will prevent fermentation. Thanks for the feedback!

      • Steve Horsfall says

        It’ll continue to become sourer in the fridge as well, just more slowly. I recently spent 9 weeks in hospital, and when I got home, the two jars in the fridge were still perfectly edible, but much sourer than before.

  4. Laurie P says

    I love making cultured veggies. Just so great to see you sharing this simple recipe with pictures as well as instructions. Just wondering about the glass jars with the air lock. Can’t seem to find a link to where to purchase them. May you have a great day!

    • Betsy says

      Try looking into home windemaking suppliers for the airlocks. Wine also works better with an airlock. The point is to keep out any extra ‘wild’ yeasts I’m getting enthused but will start with a mason jar. good luck

      • Nancy Logan says

        You can make your own natural ‘saran wrap’ by using cotton muslin and beeswax. It will allow gases to escape and keep dust out of your crock. If you google it, it comes up under 17 cool and unusual uses for beeswax.

  5. Olivia says

    With mine I get lots of air pockets building up throughout. Is this a problem? It pushes up above the brine and I struggle to keep it submerged. Any tips?

      • Olivia says

        Thanks. I’m struggling to find a weight the right size. I’m not keen on sing a plastic bag. I find that air pockets form inside between the bits of cabbage over the days and push everything up. Are the air pockets ok as long as top of cabbage is still submerged under brine? Thanks for you tips.

        • rjejwrandy says

          take a red brick and wash it and wrap it in plastic or a gallon zip lock freezer bag and fill it with water

          • r says

            Find a plate that fits down in your crock and use a mason jar filled with water as a weight on top of the plate. This is how most of the old timers I know did it.

  6. Karen says

    I made some cultured saurkraut and could not remove the lid (I used quart glass jars with metal lids). I may have added too much milk whey to the saurkraut. Is it possible it could explode? If so, how should I handle it (call a bomb sqaud or what?).

    • Chris says

      When you mix the salt with the shaved cabbage, the cabbage will become limp and begin to release water. When you pour the cabbage+salt mixture into your fermenting crock, the cabbage will release enough liquid that pressing all the air out will also press the cabbage under this released liquid.

      • Joe Savage says

        I use an 6 gallon food grade plastic wine making bucket. I shave about 8 heads of cabbage w/ my mandolin. Then using my home made “masher” = 4×4 oak post w/ handle lathed like a baseball bat mash about 1/2 head until it is watery, then sprinkle a small palmfull of non iodized salt over the top. You do not want to use iodized as it will interfere with the fermentation. You continue mashing and salting untill the 8 heads are used up. The sliced cabbage getting pressed/mashed with the salt will result in a watery sliced cabbage mixture. If for some reason you cannot achieve enough liquid you can add 1 quart of water mixed with 1 teaspoon of pickling salt or sea salt (sea salt may have some impurities). Cover with a plate making sure the kruat is submurged. I use a piece or granite but have used a brick in a freezer bag or canning jar full of water to hold down the plate. I then cover the top of the bucket with plastic wrap and seal with a large rubber band or tape. I then store in a 45 – 65 degree area – basement or garage in fall for 4 – 10 weeks. Temperatures above 70 degrees will cause poor tasting microbs and mold. Cooler temps will just make it take longer
        Check for mold and scum, testing and resealing once a week until done. When I am happy with the batch I pack into quart freezer bags and freeze.
        In the middle of winter there is nothing like stuffing your crock pot with a few german sausages, pork (feet, tails, hocks)the kraut and beer.

        • Jo says

          That sounds yummy but I thought if we cooked the sauerkraut, it destroyed all the good enzymes/probiotics?
          I really don’t like eating it cold!
          Jo

  7. Marlene says

    I made several different batches of homemade saurekraut and it is ok… but I have a craving for more tartiness so I added cider vinegar to a a bowl that I was eating and it was absolutely wonderful tasting,,, My sauerkraut is in mason jars in the fridge and I wont add the vinegar to that,, only as I eat it, but was thinking would the vinegar kills the good probiotics in the saurekraut?? am I defeating the purpose of homemade kraut??

    • Jenny says

      There’s no reason to add vinegar to your sauerkraut – if you want it to be more sour, just let it ferment longer. \

      • susan krzmarcik says

        Thank you. Was trying to figure out how to get it more sour. I testef at 5 wks and needs to be more sour. I have my 30lbs in an old crock passed on from generations. Msny memories when I make this and root beer.

        • Farmer Erika says

          You can also add a bit of sugar to give your cultures a little more “food.” I used a sprinkling of sugar to my latest batch and between the heat and the sugar it soured fast! At 30 lbs of cabbage you could offer maybe a 1/3 cup and see if the flavor goes any more sour in the next week.

  8. says

    Hello,

    We’ve got some 12″ to 16″ diameter crocks that we used to make sauerkraut. All looked good, water level up. We used a plate with a bag of water over it to hold it down. Then a cheesecloth and the lovely precious lid. There was always a concerning amount of mold floating on top of the water. Skimming it off gets most of it but leaves fragments of mold floating around. Could you elaborate on your experience with this please?
    Thanks,
    Peter and Meredith Gilbert

    • Jody says

      I have the same question as Peter and Meredith (6/12/12). My last batch of sauerkraut had a thin layer of white mold on it that I could not skim off. I finally poured the top liquid off, which seemed like such a waste.
      Any suggestions or comments?
      Thanks, Jody

  9. linda says

    I’ve just purchased a 10lb fermenting pot to turn my garden full of cabbage into saurkraut. I’m new to this and did’nt realise how long it would take to shred and pound 12 lbs of cabbage! I ran out of time (and energy) and only got to half fill the pot. Will it still work if the pot is only half full?

    • Marty Wiernusz says

      Get a kraut cutter. You can buy them on Ebay or at auctions. I can do a head of cabbage in about 3 minutes. Very easy and the right size slices.

    • Jessi Dutton says

      Linda, I am curious about the “half full” issue. My kraut has been in my 8 gallon crock for about a week now, but it doesn’t smell like kraut. I am only using a hand towel to cover over the crock and after reading some of these posts, I’m wandering if I need a different kind of lid. Oh, and I used my food processor to slice the cabbage. I did 25 pounds in no time!

  10. Dan says

    I pickle my peppershot – by washing them, packing them in a sterilized jar, covering with a solution of 5 cups water, 5 cups vinegar and 1 cup plus 2 T kosher salt, boiling so salt is dissolved and solution is sterile, capping with a boiled lid, then sealing with a seal-a-meal. After 3 weeks you have incredible picked peppers. Would this method work with sauerkraut as well?

  11. Carol says

    We just packed our first crock of sauerkraut and used a plastic bag fille with water for the weight. Overnight, the bag started leaking and added water to the mixture amounting to about 20% of the total volume. Do we have to toss it out and start over???

    • BILL MARSHALL says

      When I use a plastic bag filled with water for a seal I add 1 Tbsp of pickling salt per quart of water in the bag in case the bag leaks it will not weaken the brine. If you have any idea of how much water you may have added to the brine by your bag leaking you can add salt to your brine as above. It should be ok. I normally also double the bags I use too in case of a leak.

  12. Gerald says

    I’m using a traditional krout crock to make souerkrout, but having some odd occurances. While making the first batch there was much fluctuation in the water level in the traugh at the top of the crock that is supposed to keep air out. I kepts adding water and it kept going down within a day or so as if it was being sucked into the crock. Finally I opened the crock and the level of the brine covering the cabage had risen all the way up to the top and was mixing with the water in the traugh at the top. I’m trying again now and the water level seems to go down very quickly in the traugh as it did last time. What’s going on here? I’ve ckecked for flaws in the crock and there are none.

    • Marty says

      Gerald: I add water every 3-5 days and only a very little amount. I cover my kraut with a 1″ thick board after I have covered the kraut with a black plastic trash bag. Example… kraut then bag then board. Then wrap the trash bag onto the top of the board and place a really heavy rock on top. I cut this board out at home. Make sure the board is 1/2″ smaller in diameter then the crock or it will swell and you will not get it out of the crock. Then cover the board/bag with salty water. This keeps a good seal and the water should stay on top.

      • TwoFatLadies says

        To Marty
        You have to watch using trash bags as they are not food grade plastic and my leach harmful chemicals into your food.

  13. Doris says

    I tried this and after 10 days, I have a layer of mold on top. I remember my mom telling me about Gramma scrapping the mold off and still using what’s underneath. Is this OK, safe to eat?

    • Elene says

      this happened to me too! My kraut was submerged but green mold appeared on the top of the brine…can I just scoop off the mold?

      • Jerry says

        You can scrape the mold off we have done it before if your prosess is done just get down to good clean stuff then eat or can.If not we have boiled 1 cup salt to 1cup of white vinegar to a gallon water. Cool down reaply for brine.

  14. Jessi Dutton says

    I am making my first ever batch of kraut. I am using my old crock from my grandmother. I’ve had it going about a week now. I do not smell an odor. Is that normal at this point? Also, I read that all I had to do was put in the kraut and salt water, smush it down and lay a clean kitchen towel over the top of the cabbage then to put a weight on top of that. I then laid another kitchen towel on top of that. Am I supposed to have a different lid/covering over top of it??

  15. rdh says

    We use an old kraut cutter. The best place to find this would be an antique store or auction. We slice it into a large crock, and the key for the best flavor is to add caraway seed, dill seed and cut up garlic and canning salt. It needs to be stomped to make the juice. We cut/slice the sauerkraut, stomp it, add the seed and garlic & salt. Then repeat layers until you get the crock 3/4 full. I have yet to taste better sauerkraut. When our crock is 3/4 full we double a garbage bag and put water inside the bag and set on top of the kraut. The key is not to let air get to the kraut. There may be some seapage coming from the top of the kraut overflowing onto the floor . This is ok. We put the kraut in a location (porch) where it’s ok and put a towel over the top of the garbage bag. It ferments for about a month. After this time I take the bags with the water off the kraut and there is very little or no waste on the top of the kraut. I then put it in jars and hot water bath it in either pint or quart canning jars.

    • larry says

      I am going to make my first batch this weekend , has any body made it in a plastic bucket with a plastic bag that has 2-3″ of water in it for the seal ?

    • says

      rdh sept. 12

      How much dill, caraway seeds, garlic, salt, cabbage do you use for a five gallon crock? This is our first time making sauerkraut, thanks for any help.

      • gwen says

        I bought kraut at grocery store because I wanted to taste the version with caraway seed. My family didn’t like it. I’m glad we tried it before spending all that time making the recipe.

    • Melody says

      Excellent choice for fermenting kraut! I do something similar and have had excellent results. I use a 8 gallon Red Wing crock (antique) and a old fashion kraut cutter that I nabbed from the 5 I have at my antiques store. I was able to cut up the 5 heads of cabbage in no time! I put the cabbage in the crock, salt it, mix well then add another layer and repeat the process. I didn’t have my kraut stomper at home so I resorted to using my fists to punch the kraut down. After 5-7 minutes I was tired so I used a pototo masher to pound it out. Even after it was fully pounded (this makes the kraut release it’s juices) I still didn’t have enough liquid to cover the cabbage so I boiled 4cups of water and added 2 TBS of pickling salt to the water and let it cool before pouring it over the cabbage. The key is to make sure that the cabbage is FULLY submersed in the brine. If you don’t do this you will have black mold and the batch will need to be tossed…unless you want to run the risk of an emergency room visit for food poisoning! Once the cabbage is submersed in the brine simply put a plate over the top of it and add some weight to it. I use a big jar filled with water to weigh the plate down. I then put a big towel over the top of it and let it ferment for about 4 weeks at about 70 degrees. The first 3 days are gloreous…not much odor but the ferment is taking place and you’ll find a scum (as some would call it) that you need to spoon off daily. Rather than call it scum I’d prefer to call it BLOOM! If you want to use a plastic bag filled with water to weight it down on top of the plate ,you better add salt to it in the event that the bag would leak and ruin your lovely batch! I personally think that fermenting in crocks is the only way to go, but to each their own. Some folks like to use jars but unless you have a way to vent the CO2 you could be looking at some real trouble with the back up of gas and mold spoiling your batch. An excellent resource on fermentation can be found in “Wild Fermenation” by Sandor Ellix Katz…he has 2 books out right now with a wonderful collection of recipes. I found mine on Amazon (used) for about $7.99 with shipping and handling! WooHoo!! Hope this helps!

        • says

          Hi James.
          …the first six days at 60°F, then 50°F is best (any room temperature will work). Do not add water or vinegar, you may add 2 tablespoon of white wine for start fermenting- caled wein sauaerkraut :-) and spices off your choice.
          Good luck, George.
          Sauerkraut to salty! Means it is too much salt “100 gram salt to 5 kg sliced cabbage is the basic” Mix salt with sliced cabbage roughly and put mix in a container. Put at least 3 layers of outer leaves on top and them a linen, wood and a clean rock. Wash rock, wood and linen once a week, (use hot water
          Best regards George

          • Tina says

            I have a question…. I haven’t made this yet but very interested………My question is after i make the sauerkraut to my liking can i can it??? and store it….thank u….

          • Shar says

            George, or anyone……

            Been making lots of fermented cabbage.
            This time – the liquid is slimy.

            What is up?
            Can it be eaten or saved?

            THanks, anyone….

            • TwoFatLadies says

              No, slimey is a bad thing. Don’t eat slimy sauerkraut, pickles or any fermented food. Or canned food for that matter.

      • chris haddad says

        do you have any idea why my brine is getting thick and slimy? this is my third batch,but the fist time this has occurred. I use an old crock,plate,weight and cover method. Sounds like you know a thing or two.Can you help?
        chris

      • Nathan says

        There is no need to “stomp” or “mash” the cabbage to make it release its liquids. Salt will do that by itself. That said, I am not saying to not stomp or mash the cabbage, but doing so will affect the final consistency of your product. I personally do not like to mash the cabbage, just toss the cabbage with salt then weight it down with whatever clean & sterile weight you have laying around. In less than 12 – 24 hours your cabbage will be covered in liquids released from the cabbage.

  16. says

    We made sauerkraut for the first time. We covered the sauerkraut with cheesecloth and weighed it down with a food grade plastic bag filled with brine. It smells okay but we haven’t seen any bloom and hope we did this right. Is it all right to lift the bag to peek or should we keep it covered until the end of the 4 weeks?

  17. Margie Solochier says

    We have made kraut 5 or 6 times before, but this season the kraut is not “tasty”. I wonder if we did not add enough salt. It tastes just ok, not much flavor and not salty or sour enough. Any ideas?

  18. Gary says

    A great source for fermentation crocks is ACE Hardware. You can order 1-10 gallon crocks on line and pick them up at the local store. I got a 2 gallon one for under $30 and picked up a plate at a thrift store and use a quart jar filled with water on top to hold down the cabbage.

  19. says

    Have you made lacto-fermented sauerkraut with juniper berries, or other interesting additions like sea vegetables? I’d love to start experimenting with different flavors and am curious about combos you may have tried and liked! P.S. I love your site. Thanks for all of the awesome and inspiring info!

    • Adele says

      Juniper berries and sea veggies are good to add.
      Mine is basic and delicious with only Fennel seeds and fresh dill weed.
      You can experiment with beets (which will turn the kraut purple) and other veggies too.

  20. Adam1 says

    I have a question. I made kraut for the first time, and used a German style crock with the water well on top. When I packed in the kraut, there was over an inch of brine over the top of the kraut. I opened the crock 3 weeks later, to find what looks like nicely fermented cabbage on top, no mold, but no brine, either. Is it safe? What happened to the brine? I thought I’d even have MORE brine than when I first closed it up.

  21. Jeanne says

    My mom and I made sauerkraut about a month ago. We made it the traditional crock and added salt but did not specifically measure the amount of salt added. We checked the cabbage yesterday and it is tender but not sour at all. Why is that?

  22. says

    I went to your ‘sources’ section to find crocks, but there was nothing there. Just “We saved this spot for you” for sponsors. Do you have any direct links to fermentation crocks? I have been looking for a good one for over 2 years. Mine is a pickle crock without a lid… would rather find one not open to the air. Thank you!

  23. Steve says

    I’m on the 4th week of my first kraut run using a Harsch Crock.

    The climate in Colorado was such that I had to add water to the water grove every two days or so to keep the vent hole covered. Was originally worried that the water was being sucked into the crock but that was not the case. I guess when you have 10% humidity and use a wood stove that the dry air here sucks up the water.

    Opened it today for the first time and looks good. Liquid covering the stones is clear with a trace of film on it (almost look like an oil sheen) and nearly the same lever as when I put the lid on. Now my questions – What to I do with the brine covering the stones? Should I siphon it off before taking out the stones? Should I try to get the film off so it will not contaminate the kraut?

    As an engineer am I making it too technical or over thinking it and just take the stones out? :)

    Thanks for your suggestions in advance.

    • Steve says

      Dude,

      Your just wasting your time waiting for a reply to your message and request for information. Go some where else where the posters are interested in helping. hasta la-vista baby.

  24. Carola says

    I have made quite a few batches of sauerkraut, keeping it very simple. I shred the cabbage as finely as I possibly can, then put one teaspoon of salt (Kalahari or Himalayan crystal salt if I’m feeling generous, otherwise ordinary cheap table salt) in the bottom of each jar – I just recycle jam or peanut butter jars; anything with a good lid will do. For the bigger jars with the flat lid and ring (I think those are what you call Mason jars?) I may use a bit more than a (flat) teaspoon per jar. Then I in goes the shredded cabbage, and I squeeze it down and keep refilling & squeezing until it’s full to the brim, then I pour over boiling water to fill the gaps – squeeze a bit more, add a bit more cabbage if there’s space. Then another teaspoon of salt on top and seal the jar. Finally I write a date six weeks hence on the lid – that’s when it will be ready. I keep the jars at room temperature (I’m in South Africa, so no sub-zero room temperatures) in some place where it won’t matter if they leak, say on a plastic tray. The lids bulge out a bit after a few days/weeks, and sometimes some juice & smell escapes, but I don’t open the jars until I’m ready to eat the sauerkraut – which may be years later. If at that stage I find it’s too strong/salty, I simply rinse it a bit in water before serving. The ‘juice’ is apparently very healthy, so I keep any that’s left tin the jar and use it in salads etc when salt/vinegar is needed, or even to add a bit of moisture to stir-fries, preferably after frying to preserve the enzymes.

    • Carola says

      That should be “in goes” not “I goes”. And I should add that the bulging lids go down again after a while, and sometimes the lump of cabbage in the jar contracts away from the walls when the pressure decreases. Sometimes the jars become difficult to open if the lids rust and/or a vacuum builds up inside, but that has never been a problem. Once opened, I keep the jar in the fridge. I’ve never had a problem with mould, or with kraut ‘going off’ in any way. Good luck! I’ve just inspired myself to make a new batch, as I’m on my last jar now.

      • Betty says

        Carola, I have never tried before, but have an abundance of cabbage from the garden this year. I have lots of canning supplies, so I have plenty of mason jars with lids that will fit very tight… are the metal lids/rings ok to use?

        • Nathan says

          Betty:

          A bi-product of any fermentation is CO2. It is never recommended to ferment anything in glass jars that cannot vent. Go read through some homebrew forums about hand grenades from over-carbonated beers. Whatever you end up doing, make sure you have a way to vent your gasses or you are potentially creating hand grenade time bombs.

  25. Don Leggett says

    Thanks for sharing… it made my mouth water for several minutes until I could get ahold of myself!!

    Anyway, an elderly woman taught me years ago to put some of the outer leaves of the cabbage heads down at the bottom of the kraut container so that when all of the kraut has been eaten you get these fermented leaves to use for that hamberger/rice/tomatoe dish… you know you put some stuffing in them and roll them up and bake them. It’s a way delicious treat for when all of the kraut is gone in the crock!! Most people throw the outer leaves in the garbage or compost. If they only knew…

  26. Cindy Mac says

    Searching for a way to get some probiotics into my poor insulted gut after a course of antibiotics–led me to your most excellent site and this intriguing idea—homemade sauerkraut-!

    I live in West Africa, and our kitchen is always at least 80ºF — Would it be better for me to develop/cure it in my half-broken fridge instead?? (@ between 50ºF and 70ºF; only once in awhile does it get below that).

    (we have a properly working fridge that I intended to keep it in after it was ‘done’) thank you.

  27. says

    Hi! I’m making my first batch of fermented sauerkraut (cabbage, beet, carrot, onion, garlic, caraway. I’m so excited! I just put them in glass containers , topped with water (1 tsp salt per cup , plus salt I added to mash) and then read somewhere you could top with oil to keep matter submerged under water. So, I melted some coconut oil and topped them off. It’s cold here, so solidified, but maybe due to gas, broke through coconut oil disc. Is that OK? Is any of it OK? I’m nervous about getting sick somehow from this. Need reassurance. :) Thx.

  28. Sharayah Arnold says

    I am brand new to fermenting cabbage. Im on my first batch now. Using a 1/2 gallon mason jar with a 3 piece airlock system. I woke up this morning with liquid in the airlock system. Is this normal? The cabbage is on day 3.

  29. Steve Klebaur says

    Thanks for a great article! I’ve found that the one time outlay of cash for a Harsch-type crock ( I have the Polish version, which works wonderfully) is well worth the cost for the time and labor it saves. Using one of these crocks with the water-lock moat at the top eliminates the need to open the crock at all, since it creates an anaerobic environment which doesn’t support mold growth.

  30. susan says

    Help. Is my sauerkraut safe? I shredded cabbage and packed it into a crock after mixing 3 tbsp canning salt with every 5lbs. Of cabbage. I put a dinner plate on top and weighted it down, then covered it with a cheesecloth like material using a large rubber band. After a few days, I un covered it so I could remove the sum off the brine (there was plenty of brine over kraut), and I found mold spores instead of a white scum. I removed them and recovered the crock. But every time I go to descum it, I find these mold spores instead. Is this going to be safe to can and eat. The kraut itself smells really good. It has been fermentng about4weeks now.

  31. Sandy says

    After this is complete and in Mason jars, can I can these to avoid cold storage, which I am short on space of? Thanks for what sounds like a great recipe!

  32. Nick says

    Hi There,

    I just followed this recipe above (adding carrot as well).

    As this is my first go, I am using a sealed jar with a metal hinged locking mechanism. I cleaned it throughly on returning from the stores today and then rinsed using hot water to remove the cleaning liquid residue from the tap which is in my case very hot, and then allowed to dry fully.

    I was fully intending to steralize with boiling water, but I forgot in all the excitement of prepping the food and just realised when I sealed the jar that I had not done so.

    Clearly there is more potential for contaminants and germs to have gotten in.

    Will this spoil it?

    Wondering whether to remove the contents to a differnet container (steralised), then clean the jar and return the contents?

    Would really appreciate advice.

    Cheers,

    Nick

  33. Tim Johnson says

    how about using plastic food rated buckets? The recipe I was told to use
    5 lbs cabbage to 3 T of canning salt.
    mixed real well, placed in bucket, put another bucket in with a gallon of water in a bag for weight
    mix exery few days

  34. Mike says

    Awesome easy and fun recipee!
    How long can the fermentation be perpetuated; indefinately? Just add new ingredients?
    Mine is working great; just wondering how long I can keep it going.
    Thanks!
    Mike

  35. Jerry says

    Sure brine no molld. Pack your crock with cabage or bucket mix 1 cup of canning salt 1 cup of white vinegar 1 gallon of water bring to a boil cool down and pour over cabbage in crock.Solition should be at least one inch over top of cabbage.Cover with a old sheet or cheese cloth weight down with plate and gallon jug of water. Check ever there or four days skim if nessary or rebrine with same if evaporation occurs.takes three to four weeks at 75 degrees for fermentation to complete. Makes wonderful kraut every time.

  36. Lisa E. says

    I have followed directions, but some cabbage (just a small amount) is floating to the top. I’ve tried to remove these pieces but can’t remove them all. Is this OK?

  37. Tony D. says

    I’ve got a couple of Gartopf fermenting crocks and I can’t wait to try this out. I’ve got about 8 heads of cabbage just about ready to pick so I think I’ll use the 50 l version. Thanks for posting this!

  38. Sandy says

    I am gonna b starting my first batch of kraut soon they say u have to watch what days is that still true? The farmers almanac I want to make sure. Also I bought food safe new 5gal food grade buckets with lids will these b fine? I’ve been reading a lot and watching YouTube I want this to turn out! I’m going to use my food prosseser to cut the cabbage ans then use these buckets put something heavier in plastic bag on top and put lid on isthmus ok? Plz any help thanks so much

  39. Cherri says

    I love sauerkraut and wanted to make my own. My mom always spoke of her aunt that kept a crock going in her barn all the time, when she visited, they would go out and grab a handful. I searched and found your site. I even bought the kraut crock from this site, it came with the 2 stones for weighting the kraut down, and you keep water in the outer rim. I worked shredding 2 cabbages, about 4.5 lbs. I checked the look of the kraut after a week, but did not disturb it. I checked back today, 2 weeks, and there was a layer of blue green mold across the top, the stones and up the sides. I threw out the whole batch and cleaned all like crazy. What the heck happened? It broke my heard to throw this out.

    • TwoFatLadies says

      The mold is natural.Scrape it off gently, not distributing in into the sauerkraut. Wash the rocks (I boil mine) , the lid or plate and cover and allow it to continue to ferment. The first time I made sauerkraut it had a white “bloom” the next time it was white, pink and blue and it kinda freaked me out. I stayed the course and the kraut was fine. I like to skim mine every 2 days or so depending on how fast it’s fermenting.
      Lots of luck

  40. Connie says

    I shredded 22 1/2 lbs of cabbage 9 days ago. It is in a 15 L crock with a trough. It began “working” within a day or two, expelling the gas. But I haven’t heard it for the last 4 days. Should I be concerned? What should I do? Thanks for your advice.

  41. Katie says

    I am wondering what size of crock you recommend buying for a family (4 people). I live in Austria and they come in sizes ranging from 5L to 20L and beyond. I don’t even know where to start.

    Thanks!!!

  42. Jane george says

    My mother use to make bell peppers stuffed with cabbage put it in a crock and it was sauerkraut when it was done she made it ever fall and was so good but I don’t know how she made it do you know how

  43. David Kramer says

    I have left my kraut for up to 25 days, but it still does not come out sour enough for me. Does it continue to get more sour if you continue to leave it ferment? Right now I make one gallon of kraut as soon as I transfer the finished kraut into quart jars. Could the people that add seasonings to their kraut please give me some measurements to the volumne (1 teaspoon per gallon of kraut for example) of each seasonning that they add? I have used fennel in the amount of 1 tablespoon per gallon, spread out in 1/2 teaspoon increments in layers of the kraut and like that very much but would like to try some other spices. Also, I use plastic bags filled with salt brine on top of a layer of outer leaves to hold down the cabbage and add water to keep it up to the rim as needed. The salt to water solution I use to add to keep it full is 1 teaspoon of pickling of kosher salt per cup of water. Does anyone know if I can I do green tomato slices the same way without mashing them down? Thank you for the help.

  44. Annie says

    Made sauerkraut with my uncle yesterday. we don’t have crocks so we used two large one gallon glass jars. he made a ‘pounder’ out of a branch which he carved. just the right weight and has a natural grip on it. i shredded the cabbage and onion. (we used 3 heads of cabbage and 4 white onions) we would put about 4 or 5 handfuls of cabbage and about 2 handfuls of onions in the jar, very lightly sprinkle salt, caraway seeds and drop one or 2 juniper berries and then pound. have to be careful pounding because of the glass jars. we did that equally among the two jars until we had no ingredients left. it smelled heavenly! I also enjoy snacking on the fresh onions and cabbage while making this fun stuff. then we covered each jar with plastic and rubber bands. will leave in the house a few days to get the fermentation going, then will place in the well house outside for about 6 weeks. (the end of february) …oh- the well house keeps the ‘fart’ smell out of the living space! it can do what it needs to do out there. around Easter our family will get to try the kraut! you can add vinegar to it on your plate if you like it that way or plain is just as good. by the way, after we packed the jars, we cleaned up the inside of the jar and took the outer large leaves of the cabbage and pressed that tightly against the kraut to keep it packed down while the juices start to fill up the jar. then we placed sanitized smooth rocks to keep the ‘goodie’ weighted down during the fermentation process.

  45. Johnna D. says

    Do you ever the powder from one probiotic capsule to your salt and then put on your cabbage to speed up the fermentation process? I have done this a few times and within 2 weeks my Kraut is ready :-)

  46. says

    This is my fist time making kraut, and since I collect crocks I have plenty to experiment with. I used a #6 crock slice my cabbage, onion, green apples, and used celery seed, and coriander, and sea salt. All layered in crock up to the top. Placed a large glass plate on top then a plastic bowl with lid full of salt water, and then a gallon jug of water on top of that then covered. It’s just been a week, but the bloom is there already, and removing it every two days. I just had to taste it, and the flavor is good, but to crisp of course. Can’t wait for it to ripen.

  47. Rosanny says

    Hi. I have been waiting a month for my first sauerkraut batch to be complete, and had been checking it several times throughout the process. It always seemed to be doing okay, until today when I noticed there is a little sediment of white on the bottom of each mason jar and the smell and taste are very yeasty. It almost smells like beer. I don’t necessarily have a problem with this, but am concerned that it is not healthy or safe to eat. I can’t seem to find any resource online that reassures me what amount of yeast is okay in the sauerkraut fermentation process. I added a little bit of salt and put it in the fridge, hoping this will change the properties of the kraut.

    Any advice you could give I would be grateful for!

  48. Chrissie says

    Hi Guys

    I was wondering if someone could help me. I have just lifted ‘the lid’ of my first batch of Sauerkraut to reveal an exposed, smelly, soggy and rotten cabbage leaf (which i used to squish the shredded cabbage down and thought it would hold) – Yummo. The thing is that it looks ok but am not sure if the liquid (and hence rest of jar) would be contaminated?? My sauerkraut is also bright fucia pink – which I thought looked pretty cool and that my daughter would be into but want to make sure its ok first….

    Hmmm maybe its back to the drawing board :)

  49. Rosebud says

    Hi all-
    I use the airlock system (mine is called the perfect pickler) and it makes a perfect batch every single time! Amazon sells a six pack which is great because you can have six batches going at once. While we start enjoying the first batch, five more are cooking, and as soon as we finish that first batch, i make a new one, so there is always plenty to go around! (We are a family of six, so the two-quart mason jar batches go pretty fast!) I’ve never lost a batch, so the airlock system is definitely my favorite. It’s also super easy and takes out any guess work.

  50. Cathy says

    I put my sauerkraut in the frig. Everything was good. The next day there was no brine on top of the kraut. Do I need to add some at this point?

  51. Stuart Hayward says

    Hi Jenny,

    I recently made my first batch of auerkrau with cabbage etc- I made use of large 24 litre sealed tupperware plastic boxes. After 2 months of fermenting at room temperature a great deal of mould developed on the top of the kraut, how do I prevent this? Am I using an incorrect type of container perhaps?

  52. vera says

    I use purple cabbage the same way and also I add grind apples and grind carrots and add small amount of Bragg’s Apple Cider vinegar pack it into large jars and keep it out for two to three days then I place it into the fridge.

  53. Monique says

    Hi

    I have troubles packing the cabbage into the container until the cabbage is completely submerged by liquid …… I have a juicer at home, just wondering it I could juice some and add it to the jar?
    by the way I just got your Cookbook and I have fallen in love with it I can not wait to start cooking with it

    Regards

    • Jenny says

      Hi Monique, you could certainly juice some cabbage, or use salt water. You might invest in some weights for your fermentation jars.

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