Fermented sauerkraut is really easy to make. It is a wonderfully reliable ferment and doesn’t take any special skills or ingredients. Perfect for beginners!
Sauerkraut is a great source of probiotics and vitamin C. It is packed with flavor, perfect for adding a bit of tanginess to all your meals. 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 for beginners because cabbage naturally has lactic acid bacteria on the leaves. It just naturally ferments well. So all that you need to do to make sauerkraut is grate it and add a bit of salt!
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. It’s also fine to coarsely chop cabbage for chunkier kraut.
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 fermented sauerkraut
Wondering what type of 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.
- 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. If you’re a beginner, a small jam jar filled with water works as a weight in a wide-mouth mason jar.
- 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 pipe. These are all ways of sealing a jar to prevent any contamination from free-range molds and yeast, while still allowing the ferment to bubble and release CO2. Because I like to leave my sauerkraut to ferment for 1 month or longer, I usually use fido jars.
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!
- My favorite spice combination is 1 tsp caraway seed, 1 tsp mustard seed, and 10 juniper berries. This gives the kraut a very traditional flavor.
- Another popular spice combo is 2 bay leaves and 5 black peppercorns.
- Make curry-flavored kraut by adding a finely chopped onion and a carrot. Then add 2 tsp of mixed Indian curry spice with the salt.
- If you want a dill pickle flavored kraut add 1 tsp dill seed and 1 finely diced clove of garlic.
- Adding a cup of grated apple, fennel, beets, or carrots will sweeten the kraut.
- Onion and garlic are savory additions.
- For hot and spicy kraut add in 1 finely diced hot pepper.
- Follow this recipe for kimchi-flavored kraut.
- Curtido is a South American carrot and cabbage kraut.
- For a burst of antioxidants, try a mixed vegetable and turmeric sauerkraut.
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 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 the cabbage and any other vegetables or fruit additions.
- Mix them in a large bowl and toss with spices and salt.
- Leave the cabbage to rest for about 5 minutes. The salt will start softening it and drawing the moisture out.
- Pack the cabbage into a 1.5-quart container for fermenting. (Two quart-size mason jars works well. See the section above for other options). Leave at least 2 inches of headroom at the top because it will bubble up during the first week of fermenting. Use 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.
- Top the kraut with a weight. 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.
- Cover the jar with a fermentation-specific lid (see the section above) or a tea towel or coffee filter held in place with a rubber band. Place the jar somewhere dark 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 a cupboard since I’m usually short on space in my fridge.
- Store the jar in the fridge after opening. If you always use a clean fork to serve the kraut, it should last for up to a year in the fridge.
- There’s a whole science around how the bacterial culture in sauerkraut changes over time. 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 serving suggestions.
Keywords: probiotic, easy, healthy, immune boosting, 2 ingredients, paleo, keto, gluten-free, egg-free, dairy free, summer, fall