Homemade fermented sauerkraut is really easy to make. It is wonderfully reliable and doesn’t take any special skills or ingredients.
Sauerkraut is a great source of probiotics. However, the main reason why you should make sauerkraut is that 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 go-to every fermentation newbie because cabbage naturally has lactic bacteria on it. So all that you need to do to make sauerkraut is grate it! Luckily I have a pretty good mandolin and a food processor with a grating attachment. A box grater would work too, though it would take a lot of time to grate a head of cabbage by hand.
If this is your first time fermenting something I recommend reading my post on How to Ferment. It goes into detail about cleanliness, the ideal temperature for fermentation and more.
Containers for sauerkraut
- 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, it does increase the risk of losing a whole bunch of kraut if something goes wrong. While fermented sauerkraut doesn’t usually go off, there is always a slight risk.
- Mason jars with weight: Probably the easiest way to make a small batch of sauerkraut is to pack it into a mason jar and keep the vegetables below the brine with a weight. (A small jam jar filled with water works well in a wide-mouth mason.)
- 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 or pickle-nipple lid. These are all ways of sealing a fermentation container to prevent any contamination from free-range molds and yeast, while still allowing the fermenting cabbage to bubble and expand. Because I like to leave my sauerkraut to ferment for 1 month or longer, I usually use fido jars.
- My favourite spice combination is 1 tsp caraway seed, 1 tsp mustard seed and 10 juniper berries. This gives the kraut a very traditional flavour.
- Another popular spice combo is 2 bay leaves and 5 black peppercorns.
- Make a curry flavoured kraut with 2 tsp of mixed Indian curry spices and some grated onion and carrot.
- If you want a dill pickle flavoured kraut add 1 tsp dill seed and 1 clove of garlic.
- Adding a cup of grated apple, fennel, cranberries or carrot will sweeten the kraut.
- Onion and garlic are savoury additions.
- For spicy kraut add in 1 finely diced hot pepper.
- Follow this recipe for a kimchi flavoured kraut.
- Curtido is a South American carrot and cabbage kraut.
- Try a mixed vegetable and turmeric sauerkraut.
Traditional 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 condiment. Experiment with different flavours to find your favourite combination.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 1 quart jar 1x
- Category: Condiment
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: German
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 head of cabbage (approx. 2 lbs.)
- 1–2 tsp pickling salt (to taste)
- Flavours (see above)
- Grate the cabbage and any other vegetable or fruit additions.
- Toss the cabbage with spices and salt.
- Give the cabbage about 5 minutes for the salt to start softening it.
- Pack the cabbage into the fermenting container. (See the section above for various options.) Leave at least 2″ of head room because it will bubble up during the first week of fermenting. Use a spoon to really pound all the cabbage into the jar. Pack it down firmly enough for liquid to be pressed out of the cabbage. You want enough liquid to submerge the cabbage. Also, it’s important to fully 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 it within 24 hours. So you can to leave your cabbage to sweat a bit then pack it down again.
- Leave the jar to ferment at room temperature (around 18 C if possible) and out of the sun.
- The first three days the cabbage will bubble and liquid may overflow from the jar. The weight will keep the kraut from being exposed to air while it bubbles.
- Sauerkraut is ready when you decide it is done! After 5 days you will have a sweet tasting kraut. However sauerkraut will continue to ferment for up to 7 weeks. I often permanently leave my kraut in a cupboard since I’m short on space in my fridge.
- Store it in the fridge to stop the fermentation.
- There’s a whole science around how the “flora” in sauerkraut changes over time. However, it should never be moldy, yeasty or smelly. Keeping everything clean is necessary for a good ferment.
- Sauerkraut needs to ferment without exposure to air. See the section above for the different options and containers that could be used.
Keywords: probiotic, easy, healthy, immune boosting, 2 ingredients, paleo, keto, gluten-free, egg free, dairy free, summer, fall