How to make Sauerkraut (aka Simple Cultured Cabbage) a delicious tangy addition to many dishes.  A potent health tonic brimming with gut-healing probiotics.  Easy to make at home with just two ingredients!  

How to make Simple Cultured Cabbage!  Aka Sauerkraut- a delicious tangy addition to many dishes. Brimming with gut-healing probiotics, fermented cabbage is easy to make at home with just two ingredients!  Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. – Melody Beattie

Cabbage and sea salt.  Time does the magic here.  Once you introduce cultured cabbage into your diet your body may just start asking for more.  Eating cultured foods feels so clean and alive.   It is one of the richest sources for live probiotics, a tablespoon or two provides more benefits than a probiotic pill or powder.

One thing I love about making my own ferments is that I can control the taste.  My family prefers a “less sour” sauerkraut.  Tasting it as it ferments lets you find your own perfect sweet spot of flavor and texture.  People who say they don’t like sauerkraut often tolerate homemade and even start to acquire a taste for it.  My son, who currently likes about 2 vegetables, will eat this at almost every meal- thank goodness!

 8 Health Benefits of adding Fermented Foods to your meals

The probiotics in fermented foods have been associated with a variety of health benefits, including bolstering immunity, improving digestion,and even supporting weight loss! Here are 8 of the most noteworthy:

How to make Simple Cultured Cabbage!  Aka Sauerkraut- a delicious tangy addition to many dishes. Brimming with gut-healing probiotics, fermented cabbage is easy to make at home with just two ingredients!  

Salt Matters

Using a good clean salt without additives is important.  Refined salt (including iodized and kosher pickling salt) with added iodine could hinder the fermenting process and cause unpleasant discoloring and undesirable texture.  A good mineral-rich salt works best for fermenting.  Salts high in minerals usually have a pink hue.

Finely ground salt incorporates faster, helping the cabbage release juice more quickly which creates more brine and ensures a healthy ferment.

Salts have different densities and weights.  Tasting as you go gives you the best control over the quantity of salt.  It is the simplest way to ensure success.  Begin massaging the cabbage with half of the amount of salt, you want to taste the salt but not be overwhelmed by it.  Build up to the full amount of salt, you may not need the entire amount called for.  If it starts to taste too salty add more cabbage.

Massaging the cabbage breaks down the cell walls, releasing the juices and getting the salt incorporated through the entire batch.  If there is not a lot of brine let it sit for a half-hour and check it.  Once you start packing the cabbage into the jars it should be quite juicy.

If your cabbage is dry without much brine you do not want to add water, as this can often affect the texture making it mushy.  If you find it needs more liquid add a few tablespoons of citrus juice or leftover brine from another batch.

How to make Simple Cultured Cabbage!  Aka Sauerkraut- a delicious tangy addition to many dishes. Brimming with gut-healing probiotics, fermented cabbage is easy to make at home with just two ingredients!  

10 Expert Tips for successful sauerkraut

  1. Start with clean and sanitized tools, containers and work surfaces.
  2. Shred fresh cabbage with a sharp knife or mandolin.
  3. Massage cabbage with half of the salt in a bowl, tasting and adding more until you taste salt but not overwhelmingly salty.  Fermenting is very forgiving so don’t stress about getting it perfect.  You’ll quickly get a good feel for the right ratio.
  4. Let sit 30 minutes, if needed to extract more juices.
  5. Transfer to a sterilized fermenting vessel (I like mason jars) and pack tightly with a tamper or your fist.
  6. Leave 3 inches of space between brine level and top of jar.  Top with one or two cabbage leaves to keep shreds from floating above the brine.
  7. Keep cabbage below the brine, using a weight.  This is an important key to good kraut health!  This is your mantra “under the brine everything is fine.”
  8. Let ferment out of direct sunlight and ideally where room temperature is 55-75 degrees.  A dark corner on your kitchen counter is good.
  9. Check progress daily making sure cabbage is still submerged and taste for doneness starting day 3.  It all depends on the climate, humidity and how sour you prefer the finished kraut to taste.  3-7 days seems to be where I get the results I like.  Closer to 3 days in the summer, and more like 5- 7 days in the winter.  For really sour tasting kraut 2-3 weeks.  The larger your vessel, the longer the ferment.
  10. Once cured, store in the refrigerator, with a sealed lid where it will still slowly ferment.  I think it tastes best after a week or two in the fridge.

How to make Simple Cultured Cabbage!  Aka Sauerkraut- a delicious tangy addition to many dishes. Brimming with gut-healing probiotics, fermented cabbage is easy to make at home with just two ingredients!  

Benefits of using Airlocks

An airlock (below, left)  is a device used in fermenting that allows carbon dioxide to escape the jar, while preventing air to enter the jar, thus avoiding oxidation.

I have fermented for many years without using airlocks.  It is super easy yet I can’t say all my ferments have been successful.  Since I decided to give airlocks a try, fermenting has become more foolproof with even less hands-on time.

Our goal is to cultivate friendly bacteria which thrive best in anaerobic environments.  As the sugars and starches in the cabbage (or other fermenting specimens) begin to break down, an airlock allows the carbon dioxide to escape and flow out of the ferment but not back in.  Keeping oxygen out means less contaminates and less potential for unwanted bacteria.

I have had great success with this Fermentation Kit that has crystal weights that fit perfectly in a wide-mouth mason jar.  It is so convenient for small batch ferments. This fermentation kit includes the jars which is a great option too!

How to make Simple Cultured Cabbage!  Aka Sauerkraut- a delicious tangy addition to many dishes. Brimming with gut-healing probiotics, fermented cabbage is easy to make at home with just two ingredients!  

How do I know when the sauerkraut is fermented?

  • looks lighter and more yellow in color and slightly translucent, similar to a cooked vegetable
  • smells pleasantly sour
  • the texture will be firm, crunchy and not slimy
  • the taste will have a pickled flavor

How to make Simple Cultured Cabbage!  Aka Sauerkraut- a delicious tangy addition to many dishes. Brimming with gut-healing probiotics, fermented cabbage is easy to make at home with just two ingredients!  

How to store sauerkraut:

Once fermented, store the sauerkraut in the refrigerator, with a sealed lid where it will continue to slowly ferment. If kept below the brine, it will keep indefinitely.

How to make Simple Cultured Cabbage!  Aka Sauerkraut- a delicious tangy addition to many dishes. Brimming with gut-healing probiotics, fermented cabbage is easy to make at home with just two ingredients!  

This sauerkraut makes it to our dinner table most nights, giving a delicious tang and crunch to many dishes.   Try a dollop in soups, stews, salads, sandwiches, tacos, buddha bowls, and more!  It truly elevates the meal with the added benefit of many amazing nutrients.  Give it try and let us know what you think!

~Tonia

More Fermentation Recipes you may like:

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How to make Sauerkraut- a delicious tangy addition to many dishes.Brimming with gut-healing probiotics, cultured cabbage is easy to make at home with just two ingredients!  

Simple Cultured Cabbage (Sauerkraut)

  • Author: Tonia Schemmel | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1-2 Jars 1x
  • Category: fermented, preserved
  • Method: fermented
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

How to make Simple Cultured Cabbage!  Aka Sauerkraut- a delicious tangy addition to many dishes. Brimming with gut-healing probiotics, fermented cabbage is easy to make at home with just two ingredients and 30 minutes hands-on time. Allow 3-14 days fermenting time!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1-2 heads of cabbage, about 2 pounds
  • 12 tablespoons mineral salt (not iodized)

Instructions

Shred fresh cabbage, finely with a sharp knife or mandolin.

Start with 2 teaspoons of the salt in a bowl, massaging it into the cabbage, tasting and adding more salt until you taste salt but not overwhelmingly salty.  (Let sit 30 minutes, if needed to extract more juices).

Transfer to your vessel and pack tightly with a tamper or your fist.

Leave 3 inches of space between brine level and top of jar.  Top with one or two cabbage leaves to keep shreds from floating above the brine add fermentation weight if desired.

Check progress daily making sure cabbage is still submerged and taste for doneness starting day 3.  It will generally take anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks, depending on your flavor preference.  It will get more sour as it ferments.

You will know that it is adequately fermented when it looks lighter in color, with a pleasant tangy flavor and not overly salty.

Store in the refrigerator, with a sealed lid.


Notes

I use Himalayan Sea Salt and Real Salt.  Both natural and unrefined with a high mineral content.

Cold temperatures (refrigeration or a root cellar if you are so lucky!) slow down the fermentation process.  Make sure you store your kraut in its brine, and it will keep at least 6 months.

Feel free to add flavorings to the kraut- caraway seeds, fresh ginger, onion, garlic cloves, dill or dill seeds, etc.

Here is a helpful suggestion from one of the comments, a formula for salt ratio: .02% salt to weight of cabbage. Eg: 1200grams cabbage X .02= 24grams salt

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 35
  • Sugar: 4.3 g
  • Sodium: 728.3 mg
  • Fat: 0.2 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8.4 g
  • Fiber: 2.4 g
  • Protein: 1.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: sauerkraut, how to make sauerkraut, benefits of fermented foods, cultured cabbage, simple cultured cabbage

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Comments

  1. Could you clarify the amount of salt required? The ingredients say 2 tablespoons, but the body of the recipe says 2 teaspoons…

    1. Hi Teegan, I can see how this is confusing! The two teaspoons are a start and you continue to add salt in until the taste is right. I will try to make that more clear in the recipe.

  2. I just rating a 4 as I’ve not tried it yet. Pretty stuff it will likely rate a 5 tho.

    I’ve done some fermenting … You quite correct on the kits being super handy making it all super easy.

    Wish I’d known about the larger jars taking longer.

    I’ve made it with garlic & dill sprinkled in the layers. Also grated kohlrobi & mixed in with cabbage. Really like that. I’m excited try your kimchi! WOULD IT MAKE MUCH DIF DIFFERENCE KIMCHI if used red cabbage?
    Thank you

    1. HI Linda- I’ve made kimchi with many kinds of cabbages. All seem to work, though vary in fermenting time. 😉

  3. Do I take the weight and top cabbage leaves off before storing in fridge?
    Thank you for this recipe.

  4. About to make this- could you give measurements of cabbage and salt in weight or grams? I’m hesitant with the rough estimates you list.

    1. Hi Peter, There is not an exact science when it comes to fermenting foods. If you read through the body of the post it may help explain the process and how to get a sense of the right measurements.

  5. Yes, I did read that, which is why I purchased the salt recommended in the blog. I guess I’ll have to experiment with both quantities and different salts. I am a salt-hound, so not upset with the saltiness, just the flavor. It could be that I am comparing the flavor to a delicious kraut made by a friend using a slower process. Do you have any other salt you like to use than the one listed? Thanks for your responses.

    1. I primarily use the mineral salts. What does it taste like?
      Are you hoping for more sour? The longer it ferments, the less salty it becomes.
      You could try letting it sit in the back of your fridge for a couple weeks and see if the flavor changes.

  6. I was disappointed in the flavor of my fermented cabbage. I used the salt suggested in the recipe and my cabbage was a lovely, fresh little organic jobber, so I am assuming the disappointing flavor was due to the salt. I’d really like to get this right and have it be a thing I do regularly. Do you have any suggestions for how I might come by a better outcome next time?

    1. Hi Melanie, did you read the section above the recipe titled Salt Matters? This may help sort it out. It took me a while to find my rhythm with ferments. The best way I found is to taste the saltiness as I am making it- I don’t measure anymore, I just know the taste of the ratio I am looking for. Another way to cut down on salt is to add brine from a previous batch- just a tablespoon will get it activating and juicy without needing a lot of salt. Does this help?

    2. I find using a salt ratio works perfect every time. .02% salt to weight of cabbage. Eg: 1200grams cabbage X .02= 24grams salt

  7. So I just made a batch, let it sit for an hour but still not much liquid. I have transferred it to a glass jar and hoping it will let out more water by tomorrow. I think I added enough salt but does it have to be extremely salted?

    1. I would give it more time. You may find some helpful pointers in the comments.

  8. It did! I opened the jar once on the second day to push everything down. I’m guessing that was a mistake. A lot of bubbles rose up when I took the jar off. Do you think I should discard the whole batch and chalk it up to a learning experience, or will there be clues if it became contaminated or not? Naively yours!

    1. That is totally fine to open and pack ingredients down daily! The bubbles mean it is activating, this is a good sign! Make sure the cabbage is completely submerged under brine. If it still looks and smells good it is fine! (you would know if it smells off)

  9. I just tried my first batch, but I’m confused about the brine. How much moisture is supposed to be present after adding salt? When I packed my head of cabbage with 1 tblsp of salt into a jar, there was no brine, just wet cabbage. The salt-massaged shredded cabbage sat for 30 minutes before I packed it into a jar.

    1. I’m curious if it created brine after a few hours of being packed in the jar? It is important to use whole (as oppose to preshredded or cut) fresh cabbage as the older it is the less water content it has. You can try adding a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice to increase the liquid. You can make brine with water and salt, though I don’t prefer this because it can (not always…) affect the texture of the cabbage, making it mushy.

    1. There is a magical transformation that happens with fermentation that produces that sour tang. Just salt and time!

    1. Canning would kill all the living probiotics in this recipe, defeating its purpose really. 😉

      1. got it! that makes sense. is there a way to make fermented products shelf stable? does the 6 month life have to be in the fridge?

        1. Yes my understanding is that it needs to be in a consistent non-fluctuating cool temperature. A root cellar or fridge is best.

  10. Does it have to have so much salt? What is the minimum I can use and get good flavor? I don’t mind having to ferment it for a longer time if using less salt has that result, but my dad, who has to restrict his sodium, loves sauerkraut but thinks one serving is at least a half cup, which would be over 60% of his allotted salt just for this one thing.

    1. There are versions that use less salt and there are also no salt versions using a tablespoon of brine from a previous batch (once you get it going regularly) or whey (strained from yogurt) per pint of cabbage. I have not experimented with this but it sounds doable! You can try less salt just be sure to keep everything under the brine and make sure it smells and looks fresh and good.

    1. Mix them in with the cabbage before packing into the jars. This way the cabbage gets infused with the flavor.

    1. As you massage the salt into the cabbage it will get juicy, which creates the brine!

      1. I’ve had my salted, massaged cabbage resting for 35 minutes and still no liquid. Do I just pack it in jars as is?

        1. You can try pounding it with a tamper in the bowl and then as you pack it see if it juices. You can also add a few tablespoons of lemon juice you just need enough liquid to cover the cabbage.

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