Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe - Delve Into Fermentation (2024)

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Sauerkraut is one of the easiest ferments to get started with, and the results are delicious and packed with boatloads of health benefits. Plus, this homemade sauerkraut recipe isfar superior in taste to store bought brands.

New to fermenting foods? Be sure to read this compilation of frequently asked questions before you get started!

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There’s a lot of information about fermenting cabbage here, but the too long, didn’t read version would look something like: Shred cabbage, toss with salt, pack into jars. Now, I’m not suggesting that you skip all of the information below — it’s valuable and you do need to get the salt and cabbage quantities right — but I’m pointing out that this really is a quick sauerkraut recipe.

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Basic Principles of Lacto-Fermentation

If you’re new to fermenting, it’s all about the lactic acid. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that keeps food from spoiling. It’s the byproduct of naturally occurring bacteria (called Lactobacillus, or “the good guys” as I call them) which consume the starches and sugars in fruits and vegetables.

Not only does lactic acid preserve food, it’s also known to help promote the growth of healthy gut flora throughout the intestine. Food that has been lacto-fermented is easier to digest and has increased levels of vitamins and beneficial enzymes.

It also includes antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. (Source: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon)Lacto-fermentation needs an anaerobic (or oxygen-free) environment in order to thrive and ferments best at 60-70 degrees F.

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Because we’re trying to grow GOOD bacteria and eliminate BAD bacteria, it’s important to start your sauerkraut with the highest quality cabbage possible. You can use green cabbage or red cabbage, or a combination of both. If you can grow your own that’s always best, but other options are the farmers market, or organic varieties from your local grocery store (the fresher your cabbage, the more crisp your final results will be).Give your heads of cabbage a thorough rinse, but don’t sterilize them.

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For this homemade sauerkraut recipe, you’ll wash and cut up the veggies, mix them with salt, and pound them to release their juices. The salt inhibits the growth of bad bacteria until enough lactic-acid is produced to naturally preserve the food.

Some people like to include whey when fermenting (and it’s recommended when fermenting fruit) as it canoffermore consistent results. Whey also allows you to use less salt because it’s rich in lactic acid and lactic-acid-producing bacteria.You can, however, make this recipe without it.

Once fermentation has taken place, it’s halted by storing the ferment in cold storage or the refrigerator at anideal temperature of 40 degrees F.

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Ingredients and Supplies

Crock or jarIf you’re lucky enough to own a fermentation crock, this homemade sauerkraut recipe will work nicely in that as well, but most people use a simple glass jar. Note that the salt in this quick sauerkraut recipe will cause metal lids and rings to rust. You can use good old mason jars paired with glass fermentation weights and these silicone fermentation lids. I find using these inexpensive products drastically improves the likelihood of a successful batch.

WaterMunicipal tap water contains chlorine, which can inhibit fermentation, so be sure to use filtered or distilled water instead. A Berkey water filter provides clean water that’s free of toxins. Great for making your drinking water free of chemicals, but perfect for fermentation, too.

SaltFurthermore, using a high quality salt, such as pink himalayan or celtic sea salt when making this quick sauerkraut recipe will improve the mineral content of your batch. I also find the flavor to be better than plain table salt.

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How to Make Quick Sauerkraut

Core and shred the cabbage and add to a very large bowl.

Add salt and pound! Use a wooden spoon or mallet to release juices from the cabbage.

With clean hands or your spoon, add the kraut to jars, ensuring the liquid covers the cabbage.

Leave headspace and add weights if using, then cover.

Keep in a cool location (60-70 degrees) for 3-7 days.

Once you see bubbling, you can move your sauerkraut to cold storage.

Additional Tips for Making This Quick Sauerkraut

  • When making homemade sauerkraut (or any ferment) be sure all equipment and supplies are very clean. Sterilization with bleach isn’t recommended; a good cleaning with hot soapy water and a thorough rinse to remove all soap residue is.
  • Whenever I get to the bottom of a jar of this quick sauerkraut, I save the brine in the refrigerator to use in my next batch. This gives your sauerkraut a head start on fermentation because there are already boatloads of lactobacilli in the brine.

Fermenting at Home

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Fermenting Stones

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Tamper & Weights

  • Use the freshest cabbage you can get your hands on. The fresher your veggies, the more crisp your final results will be.
  • If you don’t have any fermenting weights, you can save an outer leaf of the cabbage and use that to hold the shredded cabbage under the liquid. Be sure it stays completely submerged during the fermentation period. Once fermentation is complete, you can remove the leaf and move jar to cold storage.
  • Keep a close eye on the temperature where your sauerkraut is fermenting. If it gets too hot, it will ferment too quickly, resulting in a mushy final product. If the temperature is too cold, it may take weeks on end before it’s ready for cold storage.

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  • Set your fermenting vessel on a plate or tray. Sometimes, as fermentation occurs, bubbles will cause the brine to spill out over the top of the jar. This makes a big mess unless you’re prepared for it.
  • Check your ferment daily to make sure all cabbage is submerged. If any pieces rise above the brine, push them back down and weight them under the brine.
  • If you see a white film accumulate on the top of the brine, it’s likely it’s kham yeast. Kham yeast is normal and not dangerous, but you will want to get rid of it. Simply take a clean paper towel and blot it off the surface. Then, take another clean paper towel, dip it into the brine and wipe around the inside edges of the jar. If the kahm yeast reappears, repeat this step as necessary.
  • As you’re checking your fermenting sauerkraut, keep a close eye out for any fuzzy mold (either white, green or brown). If all cabbage remains submerged and the inside of the jar is clean you should have no problems with mold. But if any appears, you’ll need to discard the batch and start again.
  • Because lacto-fermentation is so dependent on climate, this homemade sauerkraut recipe isn’t an exact science. To know if your ferment is successful, you should see tiny bubbles and activity inside your jar.
  • I typically allow my homemade sauerkraut recipe to ferment for two months before eating as I prefer the flavor the longer it ferments. This is completely preferential and sauerkraut can be enjoyed immediately after the fermentation period of 3-7

FAQs

Do I need special equipment?

While a weight is a great extra, it definitely isn’t necessary. Nor are special crocks or pounders! The only “special” item you might not already own is a wide-mouth funnel (unless you already do a lot of canning!). This will make itmuch easier to get the kraut into the jars. These special supplies may make things easier, but you really don’t need them to get started.

Can I make other ferments at the same time?

One of the things I will caution you on is that you need to keep different ferments separate. Love sourdough? Have continuous kombucha? These are all great to enjoy on their own, but they can’t be lined up next to each other on the counter as they could contaminate one another. Just using common sense like clean equipment and keeping these traditional foods apart from each other will give you the safest (and most delicious!) foods.

Enjoying your Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe

You can serve sauerkraut hot or cold, but heating the kraut will kill the probiotics. Raw sauerkraut is excellent served alongside most meat dishes, added to sandwiches, and of course, for topping hot dogs. Go here for more ideas on what to eat with sauerkraut.

This homemade sauerkraut is suitable for paleo and keto diets, it’s vegetarian, and if you skip the whey (see recipe), it’s also vegan.

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★ Did you make this homemade sauerkraut recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!★

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Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

This quick sauerkraut is an easy to make condiment packed full of probiotic goodness.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium cabbage, red or green
  • 2 Tablespoons sea salt
  • ½ cup whey or brine from a previous batch, if not using whey/brine, double the sea salt
  • ½ gallon mason jaror 2 quart-sized wide-mouth jars

Instructions

  1. Remove outer leaves of cabbage, core and shred cabbage, and place into a large bowl.
  2. Add salt and optional whey/brine. Pound with a wooden spoon or mallet for five to ten minutes until juices are released.
  3. Put cabbage into jars and, using clean hands or a utensil, press cabbage down until juices cover the top of the cabbage.
  4. Leave 1-inch head-space at the top of the jar (a little more if using glass weights).
  5. Add optional glass weights and seal lid tightly.
  6. Keep in a cool location (60-70 degrees) for 3-7 days.
  7. Once you see bubbling, you can move your sauerkraut to cold storage.
  8. Sauerkraut can be eaten immediately, or continue to age for even better flavor.

Notes

Use the freshest cabbage you can get your hands on. The fresher your veggies, the more crisp your final results will be.

It's crucial that the cabbage remain covered by liquid as it ferments, to avoid mold.Check your ferment daily to make sure all cabbage is submerged. If any pieces rise above the brine, push them back down and weight them under the brine.

Setting the jars on a plate or tray is a good idea; fermenting sauerkraut can overflow when it's in its most active stage.

Serve your homemade sauerkraut alongside any meal, or use it in some of these recipes.

When you finish eating a jar of this yummy quick sauerkraut recipe, retain the leftover brine. This can be added to your next batch to speed the fermentation process.

Nutrition Information:

Yield: 12Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 37Unsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 377mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 1g

Did you make this recipe?

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About the author:Kelsey Steffen is a daughter, wife, mom of four, aspiring farmer and home-school educator in North Idaho. She’s a lover of sourdough and has been baking since before she could see over the countertops. She wrote an eBook teaching the basic principles of getting started with sourdough baking for the everyday home cook, you can find it here. Join Kelsey and her family over at Full of Days as they blog about life in the Steffen household, and follow along with them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram where they share more of the “behind the scenes” parts of life!

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe - Delve Into Fermentation (2024)

FAQs

Why is my homemade sauerkraut not fermenting? ›

Below 60°F (15°C), sauerkraut may not ferment. Above 80°F (26°C), sauerkraut may become soft and spoil. Fermentation naturally stops because the acids accumulate to such an extent that further growth cannot take place.

How long should homemade sauerkraut ferment? ›

Temperature range needed for fermentation

At 70 to 75 F, kraut will be fully fermented in about 3 to 4 weeks. At 60 to 65 F, fermentation may take 5 to 6 weeks. At temperatures lower than 60 F, kraut may not ferment. Above 75 F, kraut may become soft.

How do you speed up the fermentation of sauerkraut? ›

Place container in a well—ventilated location (it will have a sour odor) with a relatively constant temperature of 68—72°F, for about 7—14 days. Sauerkraut will ferment faster in warmer temperatures and slower in cooler temperatures.

Do you ferment sauerkraut with lid on or off? ›

Pop a loose fitting lid or cloth on top (be sure that you don't seal your jar, because there may be pressure inside as the ferment develops which will need to escape). Alternatively (for keeping cabbage beneath the brine), use a clean plastic food-grade bag (i.e. a freezer bag or a ziplock bag) instead.

What interferes with the fermentation process of sauerkraut? ›

Do not use aluminum, copper, brass, galvanized or iron containers for fermenting sauerkraut; these metals will react with the acids and salt in the sauerkraut, discolor it and leach into it. Use large enough containers to allow 4 to 5 inches of space between the top of the cabbage and the top of the container.

What happens if you don't put enough salt in sauerkraut? ›

The proper amount of salt is critical for success. Salt is what inhibits bad bacteria but still allows the good fermentation bacteria to flourish. Never try to make a low-salt sauerkraut, all you'll end up with is a crock of inedible rotten cabbage and you sure don't want that stinky mess anywhere near your kitchen.

Can you open a jar of sauerkraut while fermenting? ›

Opening the Jar During Fermentation

Undesirable organisms could then develop on the surface of the vegetables. The best thing to do is to leave the lid on and leave your jars alone.

Can you have too much brine when making sauerkraut? ›

Meanwhile a higher salt brine ratio can hinder the growth of beneficial lactic acid bacteria responsible for fermentation. This can result in slow or stalled fermentation, leading to a longer time required for the vegetables to properly ferment or even causing them to spoil.

Does sauerkraut get softer the longer it ferments? ›

This traditional low-salt fermentation keeps your cabbage crisp. It will soften a bit over time, but it will always be a bit crunchy. If you like to make it less crunchy, use a mandoline style slicer set at 1/8-inch or less. It is nearly impossible to hand-cut such a fine shred.

How do you stimulate fermentation? ›

This can be done by simply giving the fermenter a few bumps, gently swirling, or by using a sanitized spoon to give the trub a gentle stir. If you suspect your fermentation is stuck because of low fermentation temps, try bringing the fermenter to a warmer location.

How do you know when sauerkraut is done fermenting? ›

Fermentation is complete when your sauerkraut tastes pleasantly sour. So, if you've noticed signs of active fermentation, like bubbles, and it smells pleasantly sour, then your sauerkraut is ready for eating. You can also continue to let the cabbage ferment, so it develops a 'rich' flavor.

What is the longest you can ferment sauerkraut? ›

The time you let your sauerkraut ferment is really up to you. I like to let mine go for 2 weeks, but you might prefer the taste at 1 week or even 4 weeks!

Does sauerkraut have to be airtight to ferment? ›

A jar does NOT need to be airtight to create an anerobic environment! Proper fermenting requires that only one criteria be met: Brined foods need to stay under the brine.

Should fermenting sauerkraut be kept in the dark? ›

While the cabbage is fermenting it is best to keep it on the counter away from direct sunlight. You can also keep it in a dark place like a cabinet if you wish. The ideal fermenting temperature is 60°F to 75°F (15°C to 24°C). In other words, room temperature.

Do you refrigerate sauerkraut while fermenting? ›

And remember, your sauerkraut will continue to ferment in your refrigerator, though at a much slower rate. So, if you feel uncomfortable leaving it on your counter to ferment for 3-4 weeks, then move it to your refrigeration and forget about it for a few months.

How long does sauerkraut take to start bubbling? ›

Bubbling and foaming usually begin within about three days, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. And once you see bubbles forming (carbon dioxide being released), you'll know that fermentation is underway. When a week passes, check for taste.

How do I know if my fermentation is going well? ›

Good indicators of fermentation health.

Well, might as well start off with bubbling since we just finished with it! Good, rapid bubbling (especially with an aroma you expect) is a pretty solid sign that your fermentation is going apace, and a cessation of bubbling is a good idea that the fermentation is done.

Why is my fermentation not fermenting? ›

The most common causes are: Dead (not vital) or unhealthy (not viable) yeast cells. Too little yeast pitched. Too much yeast pitched, causing excessive krausening and loss of healthy yeast through blow off.

Why is my ferment not bubbling? ›

By far, the #1 reason for a wine fermentation to not start bubbling is because of temperature. Wine yeast is very sensitive to temperature… some strains more than others. My recommendation is to keep your fermentation between 70° F.

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