Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe (Easy Countertop Method)

Traditional homemade sauerkraut recipe-packed with probiotics

Fermenting is an age-old way of preserving foods and increasing their nutritional value. Turning cabbage into sauerkraut is one of the easiest fermented foods to master.

Why is this sauerkraut better for you? During fermentation, billions of beneficial bacteria are produced. Because it’s homemade (and not pasteurized like in the store), this bacteria is still present when we eat it and helps our gut flora.

In fact, homemade sauerkraut is one of the least expensive and easiest ways to add probiotics to our diets!

Sauerkraut: Why Make It from Scratch?

In short, it is cheaper, healthier, and oh so much tastier!

Being the ¼ German that I am, I have always had a love of sauerkraut. The problem is, short of authentic German restaurants, good sauerkraut is hard to find. The logical solution, of course, was to make my own. Sauerkraut was the first thing I got brave enough to try to ferment, and it will always have a special place in my heart and on my counter.

Sauerkraut has all the benefits of traditional fermented foods, including the abundance of natural probiotics. It is made using natural lactic acid fermentation. In other words, beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria do the hard work of breaking down the cabbage into its delicious and salty final product.

Store-bought sauerkraut is often cooked, killing the beneficial bacteria. The few good brands, like Bubbies, are great, but expensive.

The Kraut-Making Process: Sauerkraut 101

Sauerkraut simply means “sour cabbage” in German, but making kraut does so much more than just make cabbage sour!

As I mentioned, the Lactobacillus bacteria are the active workers in the process. These bacteria occur naturally on fruits, vegetables, and even on our skin and in our bodies. They are generally considered harmless and even beneficial. Lactobacillus also have two major properties that make them perfect for fermentation:

  1. They can survive in an anaerobic environment (oxygen-free)
  2. And they handle salt well, unlike many other types of bacteria

This allows us to ferment the cabbage under a brine in an oxygen-free environment without killing the Lactobacillus. Many other types of bacteria don’t handle salt or lack of oxygen well. The lactic acid fermentation process allows the good bacteria to stay and flourish while discouraging the bad bacteria.

If it sounds complicated so far, never fear … the recipe itself is a snap!

The Right Equipment Makes a Big Difference

Sauerkraut is tough to mess up, but the right equipment makes the process so much easier! Since kraut is one of the most budget-friendly real foods out there (along with sardines), I’ve found that it is worth investing in some inexpensive equipment to make it a regular part of my diet. There are several different methods to choose from.

Option 1: A Good Ol’ Mason Jar

The most basic method of sauerkraut-making is done in a simple glass jar. Even a quart-size mason jar will work, though many people choose a half-gallon size to be able to make a little more at once. You can use a plastic bag filled with water to seal the jar from air, though considering my feelings about plastic, I highly discourage this method. Instead, I recommend getting these pieces of equipment:

Whichever equipment you pick, I encourage you to have some kind of weight and some kind of fermentation lid. You can also use this equipment when making kimchi and pickles!

Option 2: A Fermentation Crock

I prefer the more traditional method of making sauerkraut in a fermentation crock. For one thing, you get to use a cool-looking traditional stoneware fermentation crock (like this one). I find this method easier and a high-quality crock costs less than the weights, lids, and jars you need for the mason jar method.

If you aren’t sure you’ll love making sauerkraut, it might be best to start with the mason jar method. If you like it, a fermentation crock will greatly simplify the process.

Before You Start: Tips for Great Kraut

A few tips for making the best homemade sauerkraut:

  • Use the freshest cabbage available. Any color cabbage will work, but the fresher it is, the more crisp the finished sauerkraut will be. I love making kraut with fresh-picked cabbage from my garden or farmers’ market.
  • Make sure everything is clean. Since this process relies on a certain type of bacteria for fermentation, it is important to remove as much unwanted bacteria as possible. No need to bleach anything (please don’t!), but just make sure the jar or crock has been washed well in warm, soapy water, and wash your hands well too!
  • Get rid of the air. As explained above, the beneficial bacteria need an anaerobic environment to ferment correctly. Using any of the methods I explained above will accomplish this.
  • Get the salt right. This recipe does require salt. It is necessary not just for taste, but for proper and safe fermentation. I’ve tested it and it can be done with as little as 1 tablespoon per quart of sauerkraut (2 tablespoons total for this recipe) but doesn’t work well with less than that.
  • Keep the temperature moderate. In my experience, kraut is best when fermented at around 64-67 degrees, though anything in the 60-70 degree range works well. If it gets cooler than that, fermentation is very slow. At higher than that, it is too fast and can yield a mushy finished product. Cabbage is often freshest in cooler months, and counter temperatures are perfect at these times. In warmer months, I often place kraut near air conditioning vents to keep it cool, or just make sure it is in a cool, dark corner of the pantry.
  • Then make it stop! Once you’ve achieved the desired level of fermentation, it is important to move it to the refrigerator to stop the fermentation. At this point, it will store for up to 6 months if kept cool and with the kraut below the brine.
Traditional homemade sauerkraut recipe-packed with probiotics

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Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe

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Enjoy delicious, crisp, perfectly salty kraut for months! Only takes 30 minutes of hands-on prep. This traditionally made sauerkraut is brimming with healthy probiotics.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Get things clean - Wash all equipment, work surfaces, and your hands in warm soapy water. 
  2. Slice the cabbage - Remove the outer leaves and cores from cabbage. (Compost them if you can!) Slice the cabbage into quarters for easier slicing. Then, thinly slice cabbage into very thin ribbons. If you have one, a food processor speeds up this process. 
  3. Add the salt - Place the thinly sliced cabbage in a large bowl (make sure it is clean too!). Sprinkle the salt over it. Knead and squish the cabbage/salt with your hands for about ten minutes. At first, it won't seem like it is doing anything at all, but be patient. After a few minutes, the cabbage will start releasing liquid and by the end, there should be enough liquid brine to cover the cabbage in the crock or jar. Add the caraway seeds at this point if you are using them. 
  4. Move it to the fermentation vessel - Stuff the cabbage very tightly into the jars or fermentation crock. Pour any liquid from the bowl into the jar. If needed, add just enough water to make sure the water/brine covers the cabbage entirely. If the cabbage is fresh, no liquid may be needed, but don't worry if you have to add a little water.  
  5. Weigh and cover - Add the fermentation weights and fermentation seal (or use the fermentation crock as directed). If you are just using a basic mason jar, you can also do this by adding a smaller jar that just fits inside the lid of the mason jar and covering both jars with a cloth and a rubber band. 
  6. Let it ferment - Now you get to practice patience! Fermentation will begin within a day and take 2-5 weeks depending on temperature and desired tartness. After 2 weeks, check for desired tartness. The sauerkraut is technically slightly fermented after only a few days, but the best flavor seems to be at the 2-3 week mark. Taste is the best measure here, so check it often and stop the ferment when you get the desired taste. Note: It is normal to see bubbles, white scum, or foam on top during the fermentation. You shouldn't see any actual mold, though. If you do, scrape it off the top, and make sure all the rest of the cabbage is fully submerged. All cabbage below the brine level should still be fine. 
  7. Cool it down - Once fermented, it can be eaten right away, or it will store in the refrigerator for up to six months. 
  8. Enjoy! Sauerkraut is delicious on its own or added to salads, soups, or on top of meats.

Notes

*The salt should be at a ratio of about 2% by weight. If you have a digital scale, it is worth weighing the cabbage and the salt if you want to get the perfect ratio for the brine. I find it easiest to weigh the cabbage (in grams) and then I calculate 2% of the weight of the cabbage to use in salt. Any high-quality salt will work but I find the best results when I use this one

**This recipe makes roughly one half-gallon (2 quarts) of sauerkraut. If you are using a fermentation crock, this should be the perfect amount. If using jars, you'll need two quart-size or one half-gallon size. 

***Nutrition data may vary based on fermentation time. Longer ferments will break down more of the naturally occurring carbohydrates in cabbage. Also, a 1/2 cup serving size can vary greatly based on how it is measured (scooped vs. packed down). 

Courses side

Cuisine German

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving

Calories 10

% Daily Value

Sodium 450 mg

19%

Total Carbohydrates 4 g

1%

Dietary Fiber 3 g

12%

Protein 1 g

2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Like this recipe? Check out my new cookbook, or get all my recipes (over 500!) in a personalized weekly meal planner here!

Sauerkraut Health Benefits

Now that you’ve made some delicious kraut, you get to enjoy its many benefits. Sure, it’s delicious, but it also has some other nutritional benefits:

Probiotic Powerhouse

If high quality probiotics aren’t in the budget, just make some sauerkraut. It contains billions of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria. Probiotics are thought to be beneficial in supporting the natural balance of bacteria in the gut. Some studies even indicate that probiotics and gut health are important for mental health, digestive health, and proper immune function.

Vitamins B & C

Cabbage is a natural source of B vitamins and vitamin C. The process of fermentation increases the availability of these nutrients, potentially making sauerkraut more nutritious that the original cabbage itself.

Good for Digestion

Sauerkraut is included in protocols like the GAPS diet to seal and heal the gut. Many people report that sauerkraut soothes and helps improve their digestion.

Antioxidants

Sauerkraut is a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are well-studied for their benefits to the eyes.

Do you like sauerkraut? Ever tried to make your own? Share below!

How to make traditional lacto-fermented homemade Sauerkraut. An excellent source of probiotics and enzymes for gut health.

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Reader Comments

  1.  I made sauerkraut this fall using the method you described. Cut it, salt it , pack it ,  brine it( if needed) , Then i put the water in plastic bags ( food bags) I used a brine mixture just in case there was a breakage of the bag, rather than just water. I covered it with a saran wrap type wrap and did not touch it for about 3 weeks. Then i removed the wrap and it was fermenting well , no  moldy kraut smelled good, I wiped off rimm of crock to brine level , refilled bags , put wrap back on . another 3 weeks and the kraut was the best Ive ever had without the constant checking and skimming. When i first started the temp of outdoors was in 80-85 range in garage so i set the crock in a picnic cooler and controlled temp with water filled pop bottle frozen in frig freezer.As temps dropped i stopped. My wife then canned it. I just had some with home made ( mine ) polish sausage …Zehr gute!! JH

    • If you are looking to have the beneficial bacteria (probiotics), then don’t “can” it – the heat will kill them off. Just ferment and place in fridge.

  2. I don’t have a crock. can you give me an idea of how to do this with smaller amounts, say, using quart sized mason jars or something similar?

    • I’ve made with 1 head of cabbage, 1 tablespoon of salt and in a quart mason jar… worked great. Main thing is to get the cabbage below the water level and it will still work.

      • thanks so much!

      • What do you use to cover it while it’s fermenting in a myosin jar? And is the water a product of the cabbage and the salt or do you have to add water?

        • Only add water if the brine (salt only, pressed HARD with the cabbage) doesn’t yield enough liquid to cover the cabbage. It must be anaerobic or mold will occur. If cabbage is not covered by liquid, simply add water to cover.

      • This is my first attempt to culture cabbage. I just did it this way (1 head cabbage, 1 T salt. I also added added 1 T of whey). Some tiny pieces of cabbage are floating on top of the water, but I put plastic wrap on top to try and keep them submerged ( the plastic wrap touches the water). I worry that the pieces on top could cause the rest to spoil because a few tiny ones are not technically submerged- just under the wrap in little crevices of the plastic wrap. Is this ok, or could it cause the whole batch to spoil? Since I added the whey, how long should I let it ferment?

        • Place a couple of whole cabbage leaves over your shredded cabbage to keep the cabbage suspended under the liquid.

      • I made sauerkraut in pint jars and after 3 days, processed them in a hot water bath for 20 minutes. The jars all sealed, but the level of the sauerkraut in the jars is higher than the level of the brine. Is it still good? I’m not supposed to eat this for at least a month. If it is still good, do I need to store it in the fridge for that month?

        • Heating sauerkraut destroys all the goodness, good bacteria etc. Never cook it if you want the probiotics it produces. All you need to do is make sure you have the right amount of “sea salt or kosher salt” ratio to cabbage. Massage the cabbage in a bowel till you get lots of liquid. Then transfer the cabbage into your jars…fill with the liquid to cover and place a few cabbage leaves on top of that so that all the shredded cabbage is submerged. Cover with airtight lid and let it sit in room temp for 5 to 6 weeks…taste test and then store in the fridge for up to 6 months.

      • Little miss perfectionist here wants to make sauerkraut. Love the stuff and all the health attributes. Wondering if I can use himalayan salt instead?

        • Absolutely. If you use the fine grind, you might want to use less than a full tablespoon to a head of cabbage. I use a tablespoon of coarse Celtic sea salt.

    • I use the removable crock from my slow cooker(s). I have several, because of their versatility, in different sizes and shapes. They make excellent fermentation vessels.

    • I use food grade plastic fermenting buckets with lids and airlocks……fantastic kraut!!

      • I’m using a plastic food grade brewing bucket with an airlock now but had to add a plate and a heavy weight to keep the cabbage and plate covered with brine after I checked it one and 1/2 days later after making the kraut. I placed the lid back on the bucket so that it sealed tightly and placed the airlock back into the opening of the lid that lets the CO2 out of the bucket. I don’t know what I’ll have in another 3 or 4 weeks but I’m hoping I get great kraut! Can someone tell me if I did the right thing opening my bucket and do what I did?

    • I buy any crock pots I can find at garage sales for $2.00 or less. If they work, great…..If they don’t I use the crock to ferment my veggies.

  3. Hi! Just as a tip I got from my parents (they made sauerkraut for years). Sometimes the water looks a little swampy and white-ish. If that happens, they said the cabbage needs to “breath”. If you use a smaller jar, then put a straw that can reach to the bottom, and blow a little air.

    • Do you leave the straw in the jar or blow and then remove?

  4. Hi Wellness Mama. I do not have a crock pot large enough to accommodate this amount of cabbage. However I do have a 5 gallon all purpose bucket that was recommended in a turkey brine recipe. It looks similar to the type of bucket used by Tropical Traditions. I purchased it at my local hardware store and have only used it for food preparation. The bottom is stamped with the number 2 surrounded by the recyclable symbol and is marked HDPE. Is this a safe alternative to glass or enamel coating? Please IM me on Facebook to Renee Dengler Lutz. Thank you so much. I cannot wait to try this recipe. I grew up in a small town and my dad fed our huge brood by means of hunting and raising game and growing too many varieties to mention of fruits, berries, roots,herbs, vegetables, etc. He was loving nicknamed “The Pickle King” and folks would travel up to 3 hours away to get a hold of his prized wares. He taught me well and I would love for him to be watching me from heaven, making him proud, as I make your recipe.

    • Glass is better if possible. Do you have a gallon size glass jar that could work?

      • Go to your local restaurant they through them away often and might give you a glass gallon jar.

  5. I used a different recipe and only left it out on my counter for 3 days. It’s very salty! Can I put it back out on the counter to finish fermenting once it’s been in the fridge? Should I toss it and start over? Rinse it with water and eat it as is? First time and it looks great but doesn’t taste great at all.

    • Only add water if the brine (salt only, pressed HARD with the cabbage) doesn’t yield enough liquid to cover the cabbage. It must be anaerobic or mold will occur. If cabbage is not covered by liquid, simply add water to cover.

  6. I fermented my sauerkraut for a week, then put it in the fridge. Over night all the brine has vanished in one of the jars!! What do I do?? Do I add more salt brine? What happened?! I had lots of brine last night.

  7. I’ve never had sauerkraut before and my mom only had it on a hotdog or sausage. Any ideas on how to eat this fermented food? :O)

    • I love sauerkraut mixed with avocado and served with scrambled eggs!

      • I just found this combination, I love it too! I love putting avocado and kraut on sprouted grain bread!

    • I might like sauerkraut more than most people. But, I love to just get a bowlful and a fork and have at it.

      We put it on all kinds of sandwiches. We make a healthy version of the Rueben a couple times a week.

      I like it mixed about 50/50 with massed potatoes and lots of butter, though I know control my potatoe consumption and have that as an occasional treat.

      OK, the really wierd thing, I love to run it through my juicer and drink it. Don’t write that off until you try it!

      Its great piled around a pork roast and baked. But, cooking it kills the probiotic value.

      I never refrigerate the kraut that I make. The sourness is self limiting via the lactic acid that is produced during fermentation. And, it only gets as sour as I like it. If you want to stop the sourness level level short of topping out, then refrigerate when it gets where you want it.

      Just some ideas from somebody who grew up not nowing that there even were people who didn’t eat sauerkraut at least 3 days a week. Pennsylvania German on both sides of the family.

      • I love it straight, too…just a plain ole bowlful of it! Mmmmmm………….

      • Me three! Good sauerkraut tastes awesome as is!!!

    • love this recipe – it has taken longer because our house is colder, but we eat it alot.
      try putting a layer in the bottom of your slow cooker then adding a roast of pork or chicken – we love it with lamb and ribs the best – not only does it tenderize but the flavor mingling is amazing!!

    • Recipe One;
      Fried Sauerkraut with Caraway
      Serves up to 4 depending on appetites

      2 pounds fermented sauerkraut drained then pressed or squeezed as dry as possible
      1 large red onion coarsely chopped
      1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons Caraway seed
      1/2 stick real butter
      4 Tablespoons olive oil

      1 heaping teaspoon chopped fresh dill or 1 /2 teaspoon dry dill crumbled {if not already}.

      Mix together first 3 ingredients in large bowl

      In a heavy skillet { I like cast iron/enameled cast iron is excellent} melt butter and then add olive oil. Swirl to blend well.
      Heat fats to almost the bubble point.Throw in the kraut mixture and spread out evenly. Let it fry for awhile because more fluid will come out. Let it all cook down to the fats.
      When it starts browning stir it so much of the kraut can get a brown gold and some onions get caramelized and touched with a deep golden brown. Not all of the kraut mixture should get fried brown. I’d say about 50%. For the last 5 minutes stir in the dill. Let rest in the pan for another 5 minutes with the heat off and serve as a side dish to most meats.

      Additions if desired:
      Cracked pepper
      Pork steaks cut in 1″ wide slices
      polish kielbasa cut into 1″ chunks
      Serve on hot dogs/w roll

      Serve with brightly colored veggies, cooked or raw- and/ or oven baked fries

      Recipe Two
      Flank Steak Roll Ups with Kraut Filling
      Serves up to 4 depending on appetites

      1 fairly large flank steak pounded down somewhat thinly, cut into 4 equal portions that can be rolled up when needed further into the recipe.
      2 pounds kraut- use recipe above- once again drain really well- it quickens the the time of cooking.
      4 slices of Swiss cheese-the long slices. Suggestion- do not use Alpine Lace as the flavor is too delicate
      1/4 to 1/2 pound bacon cooked well and crumbled
      vegetable cooking oil
      enough flour to dredge rolled up beef

      This method is similar to lasagna roll ups.

      Lay out your steak portions
      place cheese along the length of the steak
      spoon kraut mixture on cheese
      next, layer the bacon over the kraut mixture
      now roll as tightly as you can without losing too much of the fillings. Use toothpicks to hold the meat together if necessary.
      Dredge each entire beef roll

      Get 1/4 to 1/2 ” deep veggie oil hot in skillet. It’s ready when a few drops of water dance, pop and disappear quickly
      place filled meat roll ups in pan SEAM down and let them sizzle for 5 to 7 minutes
      then roll the meat over to cook for another 5 to 7 minutes or until thoroughly heated through and meat is done to your liking. Season to taste.

      Serve with warm crusty bread and a real nice filled toss salad

      I hope you try and enjoy these recipes. Neither of them are hard to double if necessary. And of course…there is always desert. Here’s cooking at ya!

      • Very helpful and much appreciated. Thanks for these great recipes. 🙂

    • Put a pork roast in a slow cooker that you seasoned with salt and pepper lightly. Cover with your sauerkraut. You can add a can ofbeer or sliced apple if you like. Cover and cook until meat is fall apart tender and juicy. In my cooker it takes about 4 hours on high. For the last hour you can put in some potatoes that you have quartered. Waala yor whole supper is ready. You can also do the same process in the oven at 350 degrees for 4 hours. ***The actual time depends on the size of your roast. These directions are for about a 3-4 pound roast with a large can or quart of kraut. GOOD LUCK

      • I’ll bet it’s really good, I mean pork roast in a slow cooker for 4 hours – plus beer – would be hard to beat. But here’s my recipe for a much quicker dinner, with similar ingredients (though no beer!):

        Baked Pork Chops with Sauerkraut

        Ingredients:

        1 – 500 ml or preferably 750 ml bottle sauerkraut (sauerkraut is good!)
        2 – 1” thick pork chops, trimmed of most of the fat (or equivalent amount of sliced pork tenderloin) (pork chops are best; some fat is good)
        2 Tbsp brown sugar
        1-2 tsp garlic salt (2 tsp is good) (I like garlic!)
        ½ tsp black pepper
        4-5 slices Swiss cheese

        Directions:

        Drain and rinse sauerkraut
        Mix brown sugar, garlic salt, and black pepper with sauerkraut

        Put half of the sauerkraut mixture in bottom of greased dish
        Place pork chops on top of sauerkraut mixture
        Add remaining sauerkraut mixture on top of pork chops

        Cover and bake in 350°F oven for 45 minutes

        Remove from oven, remove cover, add Swiss cheese
        Bake uncovered for 10 minutes to melt cheese

        Serve and enjoy!

    • I love to eat my sauerkraut mixed with organic sunflower oil and lots of black pepper….it’s yummy!

  8. I am confused by this part of the instructions, can you elaborate?

    9. Once cabbage is submerged, fill a 2 gallon food-grade freezer bag with 2 quarts of water. place inside another 2 gallon bag

    10. Place brine-filled bag on top of cabbage in crock, making sure that it touched all edges and prevents air from reaching cabbage.

    No where in the instruction 9 do you say to make a brine and put it in the bag, but then in 10. you are putting brine filled bags on top of the cabbage.

    Thanks.

      • Hello! I’m also a bit confused about the instructions . I have never fermented anything before so I’m a little lost, lol. So, if I understand you right, we are adding an additional TBSP of salt to the already salty mixture and then, as completely as possible, cover all of it with the gallon bag of water? Does it matter what point you add in the whey?

        Being new to DIY anything, I really enjoy trying out the recipes on your site! Thank you so much!

        • I add the when before packing in to the jar and add the sale before too. I also add salt to the water in the gallon bag so in case it leaks it doesn’t ruin the mixture

  9. We use the Perfect Pickler (you can get it from their website or Amazon). It allows you to make it in mason jars or the 1/2 gallon mason jars. Better if you don’t want to make the huge batch,

  10. I recently made a very large batch of homemade Sauerkraut. It took about 3-4 weeks of fermenting on the countertop to achieve my desired level of sour. As soon as it was done, I transferred it to Mason jars and put it in the refrigerator. How long will it last in the fridge? I know fermentation has stopped now that it’s in there, but how do i know if it’s gone bad? Does it slowly lose it’s pro-biotic power the longer it sits?

    • I just had some kkraut that I made 2 years ago. Sat in fridge and was the best ever
      Lo

  11. Can i use celtic sea salt for saurcraut and pickles

  12. We made a 15 gallon crock of sauerkraut several months ago. It was awesome! Our recipe was simular to yours. Ours was an antique crock, & we canned the sauerkraut in Mason jars. It was so good that I sent a jar to both my daughters who live in Atlanta & Austin.
    We are now growing cabbage & looking forward to making our next batch.
    BTW, I love your website & I’d like to subscribe to all, instead only to this category. How do I keep the same email address & receive info on all your goodies?
    P. 🙂

    • Thanks Patti! If you click “all of the above!” at the bottom of the drop-down options, it will subscribe you to all of them.

      • Hi: How do you seal the plastic/cloth tightly? Do you put the crock lid over it, or do you use a rubber band? Unclear how to do that.

  13. My family is 100% German, and they were a farm family. Their recipe called for packing a qt. mason jar with cabbage and adding a tbsp. of kosher salt. Boiling water was then poured in up to the rim and the cap screwed on. I’m not sure my memory is right about this. Any comments would be appreciated.

  14. Just a thought.
    WHY when making something healthy are you using plastic?
    Plastic bags plastic buckets – no plastic is safe ,plastic exudes chemicals and bisphenols which disrupt hormones and provide false eostrogens. Particularly bad for males . (have you seen male boobs ?) also bad for young boys.

  15. I have been fermenting beverages for a little while but finally just started fermenting vegetables. When I use red cabbage the brine turns pink which got me thinking, should we be drinking the brine as well to get the nutrients that may have leaked out of the vegetables? It seems like there would be lots of little beneficial critters in the juice as well. Thanks 🙂

    • I know from personal experience, you can definitely drink the brine and also it does wonders for heartburn during pregnancy! Any time I have a digestive upset I take a spoonful and it usually does the trick 🙂

    • Yes! Delicious and filled with probiotics!

  16. Hi Katie,
    Love your blog.
    I have a med. size crock of sauerkraut going right now. I use salt, 1 1/2 t. per pound of cabbage mixture. I added carrots, a sweet potato, a little parsley, some celery and a Granny Smith apple. Dr. Mercola says the carrots, sweet potato and apple help feed the bacteria. This is the first time I’ve tried this recipe but have used carrots, cabbage and diakon many tmes. I didn’t use the culture he recommends so I will let it ferment for 3 weeks to get that special bacteria to develope. (plantarius) I think. I put cabbage leaves on top weight it down with a small baking dish that I sit a qt. jar of water in then cover with saran wrap then a tea towel and let it sit. If you can it, it looses it’s probiotics.

  17. I made this recipe using a 2% salt brine by weighing the cabbage. I hear that using a volume measure instead of a weight measure can really cause variances in the final product, as much as a 60% difference in brine salinity in some cases! I’ve had very consistent results so far, and I also use the pickl-it airlock (and some DIY hacks as well, being handy an cheap lol). Looking forward to homemade kraut!

  18. I have never made sauerkraut before…the recipe I used said to check daily and remove skim as needed..said fermentation would be done when no more bubbles…I never saw any bubbles or anything to skim until today….there is MOLD did I do something wrong is this batch ruined? I skimmed off the mold but do I really want to eat the sauerkraut?

    • As long as the cabbage is under the juice, it should be fine. Skim off the mold. I make well over a 150 pounds per year and have done it for years using the ten and twelve gallon “Red Wing” crocks.

  19. it is ok to use himalayan salt for this recipe?

  20. Some of the questions are very good, but you chose not to answer them all. Can you still answer them? I am particularly interested in the one about using plastic bags and also the one about the wisdom of eating sauerkraut that has mold on it.

    • Just skim off all mold. The sauerkraut will be OK.

  21. Help. First time with kraut. Did everything by the book. Used a 10 liter crock with the water seal lid. Just opened the crock and the weights had sunk to the bottom of the crock. What did I do wrong? I also had added green apple and some horseradish. The apple looks brown. Is the kraut still safe; it tastes fine.

  22. Can I use sea salt instead of kosher or pickling?

    • I use hymalan sea salt and it works perfectly.

  23. Hi there. I made sauerkraut about 7-8 weeks ago. When I started it fermenting, there was some brine covering the top, but when I checked it a few weeks later there was none. I wasn’t sure what to do so I put it in the fridge, where it still sits. There was no bad odor, no mold, still looks fresh but I’m uncertain if we should eat it. I can see brine in there but it’s a least 6 inches from the top of the cabbage. Can this grow botulism? Should I just throw it out and err on the side of caution? Can you offer any advice? Thank you!

    • I”d check carefully for off flavor or smell but it should be ok if it has been in the fridge that long.

      • Thank you! I’ll take a look at it again today.

  24. I’m a lil confused. In step 10 it says to put brine filled bag on top of cabbage and liquid. But in the step above it doesn’t say anything about adding salt to the water in the bags, and i don’t know what the point would be since it’s in plastic and not on food. Please explain. Thanks!

    • Brine filled bags are in case the bags open by mistake then you don’t get plain water into the ‘kraut.

  25. I had made my kraut at the beginning of October, just cabbage, salt and a bit of water. I covered it with a clear plate, 2 2G plastic bags filled with water for weight and covered it with a tea towel. Room temps between 50*-65*. It bubbled for a while and has smelled right all along, but the dryness of the air has pulled moisture out of the crock leaving liquid to Just the top of the cabbage. I boiled some brine to recover it, but I am concerned it is no longer safe. Any advice?

    • Should be fine if it smells good. Kraut is very forgiving. You are right to add the brine.

  26. My Sauerkraut came out overly salty. Any way to save this big batch?

  27. I know I’m joining this conversation late, but I’m rather desperate. I’m having some issues with my thyroid and immune system. I’m wanting to add fermented foods to my diet but don’t want to exacerbate the problem. I’ve heard that cabbage is a goitrogenic food. Does fermenting it make it better for your thyroid or should it be avoided completely? The same with cauliflower, broccoli etc. I love these foods and would love to try them fermented but I’m leery of them not wanting to cause further problems. Please respond.

    • It depends. For me, with Hashimotos, cruciferous vegetables are ok, but iodine isn’t. For those with non Hashi low thyroid, cruciferous veggies can be bad.

      • Thanks. I’ve started seeing a functional medicine doctor and she’s running multiple tests. She’ll be able to tell me if it’s Hashimoto’s and I can it from there.

  28. I’ve just started fermentation of cabbage and am enjoying the finished product. I started it on Feb 9 and haven’t put it in the fridge yet. It doesn’t taste strong yet. Is it possible in small batches to never make it to the fridge? I used a probiotic dissolved in water in the first batch and 1/2 c of brine from that batch for my next one.

  29. Hi there, would rinsing the kraut for saltiness also rise away the probiotics? Thanks 🙂

  30. What would you use to cover if you did one head in a quart-size mason jar? Also, how much Bubbie’s juice would you use for that amount of saurkraut? Thanks!

  31. I need to get as many probiotics as possible! My breastfed infant just started getting pretty bad eczema at 8 months old. He’s never had it before. His poop is hard lately as well I think bc we’ve added more solids lately:( so I’m assuming his liver and kidneys are backed up making toxins come out on his skin ( eczema). Will me eating probiotics help get to him through my breast milk? Also, are there any good fermented vegetable brands in stores? I feel to stressed out at the moment to make my own. I read your article on eczema and am trying coco oil on his skin and also watching the food I eat and giving him more foods that have a probiotic effect. Any advice with his eczema is greatly appreciated!!

    • I feel for you. Wellness Mama has several articles on eczema relief. Just type in “eczema” in the search bar and they will all come up. I hope you find something that helps your little one.

      • Thank you, terry 🙂

  32. Your recipe is a bit ambiguous. Step 9 instructs us to fill a 2 gallon bag with water, yet step 10 instructs us to place the “brine filled bag” on top of the cabbage. I’m assuming that these two steps are referring to the same bag, and the “brine filled bag” is a typo? Or am I misreading the recipe?

    Thanks.

    • You can also find a flat rock , Clean very well and use that to hold the cabbage down I don’t like using plastic anything works good

  33. I apologize if this has been answered…but I am sensitive to salt. Does anyone have advice or recommendations?

    • Stephanie, have you tried a natural sea salt, like himalayan pink? I find natural sea salts to be not only better for me in the way I feel, but they are yummier (it makes iodized salt taste chemically) and the kids say it tastes saltier (but yummier) so they use less.

  34. Thank you so much for your commitment to this blog!! I’m new to fermented foods and was wondering what the brine looks like when fermented for a month? Is it cloudy, clear, slimy? I used distilled water and salt for my cabbage. Thanks again!

  35. After 5 days my sauerkraut was really fermented. Is it safe to eat it?Maybe the temperature was too hot that s why..I don t know how it will taste after 2-3 weeks.. It seems to be done from now.. Does it has the same properties as it would have after 2-3 weeks?
    Thank you so much

  36. Is it preferable to provide an air-tight barrier (i.e. block all air from penetrating into the cabbage/liquid); or, is it necessary to allow the fermenting gases room for escape?

    • Both. That is why I use the bag for a seal. You want it airtight, but with a way for bubbles to escape. I’ve also seen some people rig a fermentation lid (used for beer brewing) on the top of a gallon size jar for this.

      • Many thanks

        I started my very first batch yesterday. I only had 1.5 lb cabbage so my ‘small mouth’ quart mason jar is only 3/4 full but enough brine was produced to cover the cabbage.

        I didn’t have anything to use as a weight that would fit inside the jar that would prevent pieces of cabbage from floating to the top so I placed an empty sandwich size plastic baggy on top of the cabbage/brine and then added salted water to the baggy so that it has, seemingly, made an airtight barrier. But, I guess this method will not let it breathe. Would putting a straw into the cabbage between the jar & water bag be of any benefit? Any other suggestions?

  37. HI, my apologies for my last post. I have been in and out of several sites over the past few days and thought I was elsewhere when I responded. You answered my question exactly. No need for me to have asked a ‘stupid’ straw question about allowing the bubbles to escape. however, I am still a little confused. If I cover the jar with plastic wrap and tie securely, as per your directions, how can the gases escape; or, are they supposed to stay within the jar?

    Many thanks.

  38. Can I add a chopped apples and caraway seeds to this recipe? If so how much? Also could i use half red and half regular cabbagr? Thanks!

  39. I would like to see a sauerkraut factory in Germany around Kolin, Frankfrut or Buirsbrug.
    Please introduce some sauerkraut factories. I will give some Kimchi for them.
    Thanks

  40. Can a stainless steel container be used to make sauerkraut?

    • I am also waiting to hear about fermenting in a stainless steel container.

      • Not a good to use stainless steel. Metal kills bacteria.

  41. Could you vacuum pack in mason jars to be sure no air gets to it and not use bags on top?

  42. We put up about 17 lbs of cabbage two weeks ago using a 20 litre Harsch crock we used 3 Tbsp of salt for every five lbs of cabbage.

    Fermentation started the next day – as indicated by the bubbles coming from the crock. This continued till yesterday (12 days later) when the bubbles stopped.

    We’d been getting about two bubbles every three minutes and that gradually decreased to about one bubble every three or four minutes before stopping.

    How can we tell if fermentation is complete? Or how can we re-start fermentation? If the ambient room temperature were about 72-74 deg F would that cause fermentation to slow down and stop?

    Any suggestions?

    • It is already fermented. It really does not need to sit out for weeks. Try it, if you like the tangy/salty taste, open it up, fluff it, let it air out for a bit, if it was under a press or weight, jar it and put it in the fridge

  43. I have a question regarding storage. once the fermentation process is complete I understand that storage in the frig is ideal. my question is this….does the cabbage still need to say underneath the liquid while in the frig or do you mix it all up?

  44. Thanks for the advice/suggestions. We tried it a few days ago with pork tenderloin. It was good but not nearly as tangy as we’re accustomed to. It’s still in the crock where it’ll stay for another two weeks.

  45. I am wondering about fermenting sauerkraut while at the same time in the same room I have water keifer fermenting as well. Will the two bacteries be OK fermenting in the same room?

  46. Help..Four weeks ago I made a batch of kraut in a 4 gallon crock sealed with a large plastic bag used to bake turkeys in the oven containing brine. Today I removed the bag and found it had a very tiny hole which leaked a very little of its contents into the fermented kraut. All looks and tastes good but smells of plastic. Is this considered safe to eat? I’ve used this procedure before without getting the plastic odor so I’m not sure what caused it. Thanks.

    • Hey, Daphne, do you know how I made some of the best kraut ever that has everyone’s approval even my neighbor’s who have been making kraut for years,and years? And 2015 was just my very first year’s attempt at making it.
      I bought a Plastic Brewers Bucket that you can brew beer or wine in. It is a 5.6 gallon bucket with an air tight lid and an airlock to keep the oxgen out while releasing the carbon dioxide out. We had I believe a good 55-60 pounds of kraut to ferment in that $11.00 bucket plus the lid and the airlock for an approximate total of around $20.00. Lots cheaper than a ceramic crock that’s for sure. When we finally got each 5 pound batch stomped solid and making sure there was enough brine ontop of the kraut I placed a regular sized dinner plate made from ceramic weighed it down with an old brick that weighs at least 5 or 6 pounds then placed the airtight lid ontop ( my son had to do that job because it is really hard to get it to fasten down to top of the bucket). Then I tapped all around the top of the lid to make sure it was down tight. I then filled the airlock up to the line and placed into the little washer that came with the lid that had a small opening on top. My son had to get the airlock in far enough not touching the brick so the carbon dioxide could release without any blockage. I had my son carry the bucket which was very heavy with kraut and the brick to my office in my house where I kept it at a constant temperature between 68 and 70 degrees at all times. Every now and then I checked the level of water in the airlock that didn’t really bubble that much from the carbon dioxide releasing out. Three 1/2 weeks later my son opened the lid to find the most beautiful white kraut that smelled the best I’ve ever have of anyone’s kraut( I’ve got to brag a little about that) even had at least a good 5 or 6 inches of brine on top. And the taste was and still is wonderful and the kraut is really crispy. Not bad for a first time Saurekraut maker. HUH? I can’t afford a $100.00 plus for one of the ceramic crocks plus I could put more in it than the old fashioned crocks.

  47. I just made my second batch of sauerkraut. I used two qt size mason jars with flat lids and bands screwed on. A plate is necessary under the jars as the fermentation is taking place the jars will overflow at first. I left them on the counter for 6 weeks keeping am eye out for mold. Since the lids were on and the water bubbled up it created it’s own seal apparently and no air was able to get in there so I had no mold. When I opened the jars however it bubbled over so I recommend washing the jars before opening then hold over a bowl to catch all that precious liquid. ? I used red and white cabbage and it turned out so well!

  48. I made my kraut recipe as usual in a 4 gallon crock and sealed the top with an oven bake bag (supposedly food safe) filled with brine. After 4-5 weeks I removed the brine-filled bag only to find it had leaked a small amount of brine through a little leak that developed in the bag. The kraut looks awesome but seems to have a slight plastic scent to it. Do you think this is safe for eating?

  49. I made my first pickles and first sauerkraut last summer, and got very enthusiastic about fermenting and purchased a large air-lock type crock. In it, I made around 15 pounds of sauerkraut, placing it in a below ground space that we had near the house, and let it ferment for four weeks. It came out great. Here is the problem: I put it into several mason jars to store in the refrigerator, and when I opened one of the half gallon jars there was thick green and grey mold all across the top. I did some searching on the net and it seemed that people were saying that if the mold is not black, it is OK to just take off the mold, and still eat the kraut. But when I did that, the brine around the kraut seemed thicker than it should be although it had no apparent mold in it. It didn’t look right to me. I threw out all that sauerkraut. Now I have just one half gallon left, which it looks just fine. At least I can enjoy that while I make some more. But I don’t know why one jar would spoil like that, and the others were perfect. And I am still wondering, could it really be OK to eat sauerkraut that had green mold on top?

  50. I tried the recipe at the top of this page for my first attempt. I am using a plastic Kimchee fermenter that is “food safe”. Everything seems to be ok. It started bubbling at day 2 and stopped at day 8. I skimmed the bubbles off three times during this process. the cabbage was under the seal all the time. I waited 2 days and there was no more bubbles so I opened the seal and tasted the kraut. It is very mild but good.
    I sterilized 2 quart jars and packed the kraut in, covered with juice. they are now refrigerated.

    Did I stop it too soon? Will keeping the kraut increase its tanginess even though its not fermenting any more?

    Help!

    • It will continue to get tangy, even in the fridge, and depending on where you live, it can take longer at this time of year because it is cooler…

      • Thanks for the quick reply. I live a little north of NYC.

  51. I’ve made this several times, although I tend to only make 2 heads worth at a time. It does scale well. I accidentally discovered something very fun along the way, though. 2nd time I made it purple cabbage happened to be cheaper, so I tried some. The pigment in purple cabbage is an excellent antioxidant, and also happens to be the key chemical in Litmus paper. The bottled product started a deep purple, but as it fermented changed to a lovely rich pink. This pink kraut is ready as soon as it has completely replaced the purple, although it can be kept going to make a tarter product. These days I make it with 1 head purple and 1 head green, but it still works the same. It is fun to put on a sandwich, cook up with brats in a crock pot with speatzle, or toss in a salad, the rose color just pops through. I have often also thought it would be a fun chemistry experiment, for a science fair project or a Home School science program.

  52. Can you please tell me if I can add caraway seeds at the beginning and let it ferment together? Thank you!

    • I add 1 T caraway seeds, some fresh dill, and a small onion (I read onion helps with the fermenting) to one head of cabbage from the beginning. Layer it in the bowl along with the salt. Delicious.

  53. Do you happen to know what people used to seal the top (to keep it anaerobic) before the advent of plastic? Cabbage leaves perhaps?

  54. I have tried and tried to make sauerkraut and failed. The last time I made it I used too much salt and put it in a glass jar with screw top. I’m confused because it says the jar must be air tight and then says it needs space to breath.Mine was stuffed to the top and wondered how it could breath? Any suggestions would be great I couldn’t eat it because all it tasted like was salty cabbage.

    • It needs to not have air get to the top of it, but it doesn’t have to go all the way to the lid. This is why many fermentation crocs have heavy discs that push down the level of the food, keeping the liquid above it and creating an airtight layer.

  55. I fill the jar to ~1″ of the top, and then I fill a ziplock baggie with water to make up the difference. It pushes the Kraut down like the discs on the fancy crocs, keeping it submerged..

  56. Hi its leonie from tasmania here…my daughter has been told by a naturalist to start eating sauerkraut..so is there a special pot I need??to start this adventure……please let me know..as im willing to get one for her….talk soon leonie

  57. Just made mine for the first time and it came out fantastic!! I used 2 mason jars for 1 head of cabbage. The ingredients were not fully submerged so I added brine and let one sit for a week and the other for 2 weeks. So easy and very, very tasty. I could eat it right out of the jar!

  58. I tried this recipe. Kept getting mold on the top of my crock with the cabbge completely submerged. After three weeks it is still way too salty. Going to start over again with less salt.

  59. After moving kraut from fermentation crock into ball canning jars for refrigerator storage should the kraut still be under the brine? If there is not enough brine to fill all jars to cover the kraut can water (salted?) be added to the jars?

  60. If anyone would like to see a tutorial for creating sauerkraut, Craig does a great job on YouTube and has his own channel.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtX9uQi7xeM
    Sometimes, it helps me to see someone working through the recipe.

  61. Thanks for another great post Katie! This is just what I was looking for to complete an article on probiotics. Hope you don’t mind if I use the recipe 😉

    • Thanks Brock. I don’t allow my recipes or articles to be republished elsewhere but you can quote from it and link back to this as the original source.

  62. Hi, I am wondering what the difference is between sauerkraut juice and sauerkraut brine? Are they the same? one place said the juice is not the briny stuff. I’m confused about that.

  63. Hi Katie, I know this was posted a while ago. Is digestive upset a sign of bad bacteria die off? Or just that these organisms are new to your system? I’ve made this several times (organic chopped cabbage, sea salt, filtered water). I put it in a large bowl and cover with cabbage leaves and plastic wrap and a weight and keep it in a cool room at the lowest part of the house. After a few weeks the liquid tastes great and no signs of mold. I then refrigerate it. I find when I drink the liquid (I like the taste), I will have some diabetes a few hours later for a day or so. Sorry for the TMI. No pain or gas. Not trying to do an online diagnosis, just would appreciate thoughts. I generally don’t have digestive issues.

    • I mean diarrhea. Darn autocorrect.

    • I do remember some digestive changes when I first started eating fermented foods too. Definitely make sure there are no signs of mold but I would think some digestive changes without pain or any other negative symptoms may be related to the probiotics.

  64. My recently discovered favorite is turmeric kraut

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