Fermented sauerkraut is easy to make. It is a wonderfully reliable ferment and doesn’t take any special skills or ingredients. Perfect for beginners!
Here are a few reasons why I make at least 5 quarts of kraut every year.
- Sauerkraut is a great source of probiotics and vitamin C.
- It is packed with flavor, perfect for adding tanginess to all your meals.
- It’s simple and affordable. I stock up whenever our local cabbage cabbage is on-sale, so we can enjoy kraut all winter long.
- Fermented sauerkraut is so much BETTER than the stuff you find in a jar at your local grocery store.
Why Sauerkraut is so easy to ferment
Sauerkraut is a good ferment for beginners because cabbage naturally has lactic acid bacteria on the leaves. So it is a really reliable ferment. So all that you need to do to make sauerkraut is grate it and add a bit of salt!
I have taught preschoolers how to make sauerkraut. I have taught uninterested teens how to make sauerkraut. It is that easy.
–> You can make sauerkraut in an old pasta sauce jar. Let it ferment for 3 to 5 days for a really bubbly ferment.
–> If you want to store kraut in your pantry for 2 weeks to a year, I recommend reading this post on How to Ferment. It goes into detail about cleanliness, the ideal temperature for fermentation, and more!
Here’s a video showing how I make fermented sauerkraut.
The best thing about making your own kraut is that you can experiment with FLAVOR!
Here are 10 flavors that we enjoy. If you have a favorite flavor that isn’t on this list, please share it in the comments section! Each of these spice mixes are designed for 1 batch of kraut (based on 1 cabbage).
- Classic Eastern European: This is my favorite spice combination, 1 tsp caraway seed, 1 tsp mustard seed, and 10 juniper berries. This gives the kraut a very traditional flavor.
- Pepper bay: Another popular spice combo is 2 bay leaves and 5 black peppercorns.
- Dill pickle: For a dill pickle flavor, add 1 tsp dill seed and 1 finely diced clove of garlic.
- Sweet: Add 1 cup of grated apple, fennel, beets, or carrots to the kraut and only let it ferment for 3 to 5 days.
- Savory: Onion and garlic are savory additions.
- Low-sodium sauerkraut: There’s a few ways to ferment kraut and make sure it’s low-sodium.
- Curry kraut: Add 1 finely chopped onion and 1 grated carrot with 2 tsp of mixed Indian curry spice.
- Hot and spicy: Add in 1 to 4 finely diced hot peppers. The amount of heat will depend on the type of pepper.
- Curtido: This South American cabbage ferment is flavored with carrot, onion and oregano.
- Turmeric sauerkraut: Pack in some antioxidants by adding fresh turmeric.
Containers for fermented sauerkraut
Wondering what type of fermenting container to use for your homemade kraut? Here are a few of my favorite options:
- Crocks: Traditionally sauerkraut was made in large crocks with a weight to keep the cabbage below the brine. This is still a great way to make a TON of kraut at once. However, as an open-air ferment, you will probably have to deal with mold. If scraping mold off the brine isn’t something you’re keen on, only ferment for a few weeks, then pack into jars and store in the kraut in fridge.
- Jars with weight: Probably the easiest way to make a small batch of sauerkraut is to pack it into a mason jar (or old pasta sauce jar) and keep the shredded cabbage below the brine with a weight. If you’re a beginner, a small jam jar filled with water works as a weight in a wide-mouth mason jar. You can also use the cabbage core or cabbage leaves to keep everything below the brine.
- Fidos and Airlocks: If you would like to make a large batch of sauerkraut with very little risk of it going off, then I recommend using a Fido jar or a mason jar with an airlock lid. This will prevent contamination, while still allowing the ferment to bubble and release CO2. Because I like to leave my sauerkraut to ferment in a closet for 1 month or longer, I usually use Fido jars.
Easy Fermented Sauerkraut
Fermented sauerkraut is SUPER easy to make at home. All you need is a grater to turn a head of cabbage into a delicious and probiotic side dish. Experiment with different flavors to find your favorite combination. See the section above for 10 delicious options.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 1.5-quart jar 1x
- Category: Condiment
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: German
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 medium-sized head of cabbage (approx. 2 lbs.)
- 1–2 Tbsp pickling salt (to taste – I like 4 tsp)
- Flavors (see above for 10 suggestions)
- Grate or finely chop the cabbage and any other vegetables or fruit additions. Mix the prepared cabbage with the salt and any additional flavors.
- Leave the cabbage to rest for about 5 minutes while you prepare your jars. The salt will start softening it and drawing the moisture out. This will make it easier to pack the kraut into the jars.
- Pack the cabbage into a 1.5-quart container for fermenting. (Two quart-size mason jars work well. See the section above for other options). Leave at least 1 inch of headroom at the top because the cabbage will bubble up during the first week of fermenting. Use the back of a spoon to pound all the cabbage into the jar. Pack it down firmly enough for the liquid to be pressed out of the cabbage. You want enough liquid to fully submerge the cabbage. It’s also important to pack the cabbage into the jar because air bubbles increase the risk of contamination. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough liquid right away, it should produce enough within 24 hours. So you can leave your cabbage to sweat a bit then pack it down again. Alternatively, feel free to add a bit of filtered water (2 to 4 Tbsp).
- Top the kraut with a weight (a small jam jar or the cabbage core will both work as well). For the first three days, the cabbage will bubble a lot. The weight helps to keep the cabbage under the liquid (brine) while it bubbles.
- Cap the jar with a lid that will allow gas to escape as it bubbles. A Fido jar is my favorite option because it prevents any chance of contamination and doesn’t require burping. But you can also use a loosely-tightened lid or a tea towel held in place with a rubber band. Place the jar in a dark location to ferment. A closet or a kitchen cupboard is perfect.
- The sauerkraut is ready when you decide it is done! After 3 days you will have sweet-tasting kraut that is packed with probiotics. However, sauerkraut will continue to ferment and sour for up to 7 weeks. I often permanently leave my kraut in my pantry since I’m short on space in my fridge.
- Store the jar in the fridge after opening it.
- There’s a whole science around how the bacterial culture in sauerkraut changes with the fermentation process. However, it should never be moldy, yeasty, or smelly. Keeping everything clean is necessary for a good ferment.
- Wondering how to serve a batch of sauerkraut? It’s not just a hot dog topping! Here are 15 different ways to serve sauerkraut.
- Serving Size: 1/4 cup
- Calories: 5
- Sugar: 0.3g
- Sodium: 90mg
- Fat: 0g
- Saturated Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 0.8g
- Fiber: 0.3g
- Protein: 0.3g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: probiotic, easy, healthy, immune boosting, 2 ingredients, paleo, keto, gluten-free, egg-free, dairy free, summer, fall