Making sauerkraut at home doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. It’s actually very easy to make small batches, requiring only a few minutes of prep time, then stand by and watch as nature takes its course.
This old way of preserving food is a fun process to learn. This recipe for Beet and Cabbage Sauerkraut is just lightly fermented, resulting in a kraut that is fresh, crunchy and not overly salty –making it a perfect side “salad” to any meal. Inspired by my friend Tonia, who first introduced me to style of kraut over the summer, I’ve been making this slightly fermented kind of kraut in small batches ever since. For an alternative version, try this Turmeric Sauerkraut!
In this recipe, I use purple cabbage and grated beets, which gives it this beautiful vibrant color. But feel free to use just cabbage if you prefer. The refreshing bite is such a welcome accompaniment to dinner, especially with heavier meals, providing good contrast in texture and flavor. It’s also delicious on sandwiches, in tacos, wraps or have a bowl of it on its own. And you really don’t need any special equipment to make this…. a mason jar works just as well as a crock.
The main reason I am in love with homemade kraut is this— it’s incredibly good for our bodies. The simple fermentation process, an ancient way of preserving food, has amazing cancer-fighting and immunity building properties, similar to the healthy probiotics in yogurt, but without the dairy and fat. As cabbage ferments, it produces live bacteria.
These good bacteria, or “probiotics” replenish the good bacteria in our bodies and help stop the growth of bad bacteria, boosting our whole immune system, keeping us healthy!
But if you eat sauerkraut that has been pasteurized (the store-bought kind, canned and not refrigerated) the heat in the pasteurization process actually kills these good live bacteria, and so we won’t benefit from the probiotics…and that’s why I like to make it at home.
Plus it’s SO easy, and you can flavor it however you like.
Learning the old ways of preserving food, is such a fun and rewarding experience.
Finely slice and grate cabbage and beets. Or use just cabbage…up to you. You need about 4 cups total. I add a ⅛ to ¼ cup of sliced onion, and sometimes minced garlic. This is optional. It will make the smell slightly off putting as it ferments, but once it’s refrigerated, its adds a really delicious flavor.
You’ll notice in the photo- I peeled the beet. As I’ve made this recipe over and over now, I stopped peeling the beets- because the beet skin actually has the beneficial bacteria, so I just leave it on.
Place the cabbage mixture along with all its juices in a mason jar, and pack it down with a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon. Cover it with a cabbage leaf. Pack it down once more. Cover it with a cloth, or just partially close with a lid – you want it to be able to breathe a bit. Let it sit on the kitchen counter for 24 hours, in a warm spot, occasionally pressing down on the cabbage, compressing.
After 24 hours, if there is not enough liquid to cover the cabbage –in a separate cup, mix 1 teaspoon fine sea salt with 1 cup filtered water, and ONLY add enough of the saltwater to bring the water level to the top of the cabbage (while pressing down on the cabbage). You may not need to use the whole cup of water.
Then leave it on the counter, with the cabbage weighted down ( see notes) covered loosely with a lid, over a pan to catch any juices, with a dish cloth placed over it (or place somewhere cool, ideally 65- 72 degrees F) for 3-5 days, or longer if you prefer more fermentation, occasionally pressing down on the cabbage.
My personal preference is 4-5 days for a refreshing and crunchy version. After a few days you should start to see some activity, bubbles, with you tap the jar.
After 3-7 days, close it with a lid and put it in the fridge…and don’t worry, it will smell better once it is chilled. Once it chilled, it’s ready to eat. As it rests in the fridge, it will continue to ferment but at a much slower rate. It will taste better and better.
A simple easy, small batch recipe for Beet and Cabbage Sauerkraut that anyone can make using a mason jar. Full of good healthy bacteria!
- 3 Cups cabbage- finely sliced ( leave one leaf whole, for the top)
- 1 Cup grated beet- (or leave it out and add an extra cup of cabbage, or grated carrot)
- ⅛–¼ Cup sliced red onion – optional
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 cup mason jar
Other optional ingredients:
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 garlic clove grated
- 1–2 teaspoon grated ginger
- Finely slice and grate cabbage and beets.
- You need about 4 cups total. I add a ⅛ to ¼ cup sliced onion. This is optional.
- Place in a bowl along with any other optional ingredients and massage with 1 teaspoon fine sea salt. Let sit on the counter, mixing occasionally for 1-2 hours, until cabbage has wilted and released a little water.
- Place cabbage beet mixture and all the juices in CLEAN mason jar and pack it down with a muddler, or the end of a wooden spoon.
- If there is not enough liquid to cover, mix one teaspoon sea salt with 1 cup filtered water, and add just enough of this brine so cabbage -beet mixture is submerged- leaving at least an inch of space at the top of jar. Top with a whole cabbage leaf ( or fermentation weight) and press it down once more. Cover with loosely with a lid and place on a pan ( to catch any liquid).
- Then place in a cool dark place ( ideally 65 -72 degrees F ) for 3-5 days. It may take longer to ferment if it is colder. I often place mine in the cooler part of my kitchen, covered with a big dishcloth. You can check it daily to make sure cabbage is under the brine.
- After 3-4 days, check for activity. When you tap the jar, tiny bubbles should rise to the top, indicating it’s fermenting. Once fermented to the desired amount, place it in the fridge. The longer it ferments the more sour it will taste.
- Once it’s chilled the smell will surprisingly mellow out and it will actually seem edible! So let it chill overnight, discard the cabbage leaf, then give it a taste!
Do not use pre-shredded cabbage. You need the natural bacteria from a whole cabbage. Farmers market cabbage works especially well.
If you are finding you need to add quite a bit of water to get the cabbage to be submerged, make a brine first. A basic fermentation ratio is 1 heaping teaspoon sea salt to every cup water.
You can also use fermentation weight to keep the kraut submerged, or a sterilized round smooth stone ( boil in water to sterilize), or use a small ziplock bag, filled with a little water, as a weight, placed over the cabbage in the jar.
Any cabbage that is exposed to air, will likely get moldy. Feel free to remove the mold if it is just on one area, you likely can salvage the rest.
- Calories: 45
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