Sauerkraut is a versatile side dish or condiment that boasts a tangy flavor with a crunchy texture. In addition to being delicious, sauerkraut also comes with a robust set of gut-healthy probiotics that will make you more regular and boost your immune system.
Store-bought fermented sauerkraut comes with a hefty price tag of $8-10 per jar! While it’s convenient to run to the specialty store and purchase a jar of Bubbie’s fermented sauerkraut, it’s also very inexpensive and super easy to ferment cabbage into jars of your very own homemade sauerkraut.
Even if you are new to fermenting foods, sauerkraut is the perfect starter recipe for the most novice of home chefs. Grab a head of cabbage and some salt, and we will show you how to make a delicious batch of homemade sauerkraut!
What is Fermentation?
Fermentation occurs when naturally occurring yeasts and bacteria consume the sugars in a food product and give off lactic acid as a byproduct of that process. During fermentation, food becomes more nutritious and easier to digest. Fermented foods are high in probiotics which are the microorganisms that inhabit our digestive tracks making it easier for us to process the foods we eat.
How to Make Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is a relatively simple condiment to make with only two ingredients required. Sauerkraut is typically made with green cabbage but also delicious when made using purple cabbage.
The second ingredient required to make homemade sauerkraut is s high-quality sea salt.
Supplies Needed to Ferment Sauerkraut:
A few simple supplies are needed to facilitate the fermentation process.
- Half Gallon Mason Jar. You can also use smaller jars.
- Mason Jar Lids
- Fermenting weights (optional but very helpful to keep your sauerkraut below the brine)
Ingredients Needed for Making Sauerkraut:
- 1 Head of Green Cabbage
- High-Quality Sea Salt
Steps to Making Homemade Sauerkraut:
- Wash your cabbage in cold water and remove the dirty outer leaves. (Keep one clean cabbage leaf to use later)
- Using a sharp knife, carefully remove the hard cabbage core.
- Shred or finely chop your head of cabbage. Place cabbage in a large bowl.
- Sprinkle your head of cabbage with sea salt. You need approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons per pound of shredded cabbage.
- Mix the salt into the cabbage. You want your cabbage to taste salty.
- Using your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage for 5 minutes. Massaging the salt into the cabbage helps to draw the water out of the cabbage, creating a brine for fermentation.
- Let your cabbage sit in the bowl for five minutes.
- Check your cabbage. You may need to massage your cabbage for five more minutes. You want the cabbage to start to soften, and you will hopefully have enough liquid brine to cover the cabbage in the jar.
- Reserve the salty brine and place your shredded cabbage into your mason jar/s. Using your fist or a tamper, firmly push the cabbage down, packing your shredded cabbage tightly into the jar. Be sure to leave 1-2 inches of headspace in your jar.
- Pour the brine over the cabbage. If your brine does not cover your cabbage by 1/2 to 1 inch of liquid, you can make more brine by mixing 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt with one cup of water.
- Using the cabbage leaf you saved earlier, cut out a circle of cabbage slightly smaller than the mouth of the jar.
- Place this over the top of your cabbage to help the cabbage stay below the brine.
- Lightly close your jar with a lid, don’t close the jar too tight as you will want to let gas bubbles to escape during the fermentation process.
- Let your jar sit on the counter out of direct sunlight for up to four weeks.
- After the first week, begin tasting your sauerkraut, put the jar in the fridge when it comes to your desired level of tangy flavor. Be sure that your sauerkraut remains covered in the brine during the fermentation process. A fermentation weight can be helpful to keep the cabbage below the top of the brine.
**During fermentation, your brine may take on a cloudy appearance, this is ok. If any fuzzy mold begins to grow on your jar, discard your sauerkraut and start over. **
The hardest part about making sauerkraut from scratch is waiting for it to be ready!
Enjoying your Sauerkraut:
Your sauerkraut will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.
Enjoy your sauerkraut as a side to many dishes, including:
- Homemade Reubens
- Sausage Casserole with Sauerkraut
- German Meatballs
- Spareribs and Sauerkraut
- Stuffed Cabbage
- Pork Tenderloin with Apple Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is healthy and delicious served warm or cold!
If you’re interested in getting started with fermenting foods, this kit is a great starter kit with all the supplies needed to start you on your journey toward fermented foods. I was gifted this kit for Christmas one year by my mother-in-law and I’ve put it to good use!