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Making homemade Sauerkraut is easier than you think! Full of healthy probiotics that support our gut and boost our immune system, sauerkraut is fermented cabbage that takes under 15 minutes of hands-on time before mother nature takes over! Video.
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 sauerkraut into your diet your body may just start asking for more. Eating fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi feels so clean and alive. It is one of the richest sources of live probiotics, a tablespoon or two provides more benefits than a probiotic pill or powder! Talk about economical!
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!
How to make Sauerkraut | 60-second video
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.
Salt Ratio: Salts have different densities and weights. The recommended salinity for Sauerkraut is 1.5% – to 2.5% salt to the weight of the cabbage. Here we use 2% salt to the weight of the cabbage. Example: 1000 grams cabbage multiplied x .02= 2o grams of salt. Feel free to use more or less as long as it stays between 1.5% and 2.5%. I use Himalayan Sea Salt and Real Salt. Both are natural and unrefined with high mineral content. Once you are familiar with sauerkraut making, you will be able to add salt to taste. Tasting as you go gives you the best control over the quantity of salt. It is the simplest way to ensure success.
Feel free to add flavorings to the kraut- caraway seeds, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, onion, garlic cloves, dill or dill seeds, cumin seeds, etc. Take a peek at our Beet and Cabbage Sauerkraut and our Turmeric Kraut. You can also add grated carrots.
How to Make SauerKraut in 10 Easy steps
*See the recipe card for detailed instructions.
- Start with clean and sanitized tools, containers and work surfaces.
- Shred fresh cabbage with a sharp knife or mandolin. Weight the cabbage in grams.
- Multiply the weight of the cabbage in grams by .02. This is the amount of salt in grams, that you will need.
- Massage cabbage with the salt in a bowl. Massaging the cabbage breaks down the cell walls, releasing the juices and incorporating the salt 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.
- Transfer to a sterilized fermenting vessel (I like mason jars) and pack tightly with a tamper or your fist.
- If your cabbage is dry without much brine, you can create more brine by mixing 1 cup water with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Then add as needed to the jar.
- Leave 3 inches of space between the brine level and the top of jar. Top with one or two cabbage leaves to keep shreds from floating above the brine. 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.” Use a fermentation weight, or another clean, smaller jar that fits inside this jar. Even a shot glass will work.
- Let this ferment out of direct sunlight and ideally where room temperature is a cool 64-72 degrees. A dark corner on your kitchen counter is good.
- 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 when I get the results I like. Closer to 3 days in the summer, and more like 7 days in the winter. For really sour-tasting kraut, 2-3 weeks. The larger your vessel, the longer the ferment.
- Once it the sauerkraut is too your taste, remove weights and cabbage leaves and any oxidized kraut from the top, and store it 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.
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 contaminants 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 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 tangy pickled flavor
How to store sauerkraut:
Once fermented, store the sauerkraut in the refrigerator, with a sealed lid where it will continue to ferment slowly. If kept below the brine, it will keep indefinitely.
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!
Health Benefits of sauerkraut
The probiotics in fermented foods like sauerkraut have been associated with a variety of health benefits, including bolstering immunity, improving digestion,and even supporting weight loss! Here are the most noteworthy:
- Increases the nutritional content of the foods being fermented.
- Supports the intestinal tract.
- Provides enzymes that aid in digestion.
- Stimulates and supports the immune system.
- May inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
- Antioxidant, anti-microbial, and antifungal
- Helps with inflammation
- Fermenting foods may increase the air quality in your home by introducing more healthy bacteria in your environment.
More Fermentation Recipes you may like:
- Curtido- Cultured Salvadoran Slaw
- How to Make Kimchi!
- Beet and Cabbage Sauerkraut
- How to make Turmeric Sauerkraut
- Fermented Hot Sauce -Simple and Delicious!
- How to make Fermented Pickles!
Making homemade Sauerkraut is easier than you think! Full of healthy probiotics that support our gut and boost our immune system, sauerkraut is fermented cabbage that takes under 30 minutes of hands-on time before mother nature takes over!
- 1–2 heads of cabbage, about 2 pounds (1000 grams)
- Mineral or sea salt (not iodized)- ( 20 grams based on 1000 grams of cabbage). Or multiply .02 x the grams of cabbage, see notes)
Equiptment: 1-2 mason jars, fermentation weight, and a mudler
- Set aside 2 cabbage leaves and leave them whole.
- Shred the remaining cabbage finely with a sharp knife or mandolin. Weigh the cabbage in grams (careful not to include the bowl’s weight). Take this number and multiply it by .02. This is the number in grams of salt you will need, so measure this out.
- Massage the measured salt into the cabbage. (Let sit 30 minutes, or longer if needed to extract more juices).
- Transfer cabbage and brine to your vessel and pack tightly with a tamper, or a muddler.
- Leave 3 inches of space between brine level and the top of the jar. Top with one or two cabbage leaves to keep shreds from floating above the brine add a fermentation weight.
- Check progress daily making sure cabbage is still submerged ( pushing it down if not) and taste for doneness starting day 3. It will generally take anywhere from 3-5 days and will get sourer as it ferments.
- You will know that it is adequately fermented when it looks lighter in color, with a pleasantly tangy flavor.
- Store in the refrigerator with a sealed lid, to create a bubbly kraut, burping on occasion.
Salt Ratio: The recommended salinity for Sauerkraut is 1.5% – to 2.5% salt to the weight of the cabbage. Here we use 2% salt to the weight of the cabbage. Example: 1ooo grams cabbage multiplied x .02= 2o grams of salt. Feel free to use more or less as long as it stays between 1.5% and 2.5%. I use Himalayan Sea Salt and Real Salt. Both are natural and unrefined with high mineral content.
How to store: 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 for at least 6 months.
Flavors: Feel free to add flavorings to the kraut- caraway seeds, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, onion, garlic cloves, dill or dill seeds, etc.
- 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
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