This homemade sauerkraut recipe shows you how to make your own fresh and crunchy fermented cabbage at home using just cabbage and salt. The easy step-by-step guide covers all the details for you to safely brine cabbage into a probiotic-rich condiment to enjoy on sandwiches, with sausages and more.
What if my cabbage doesn’t release enough liquid?
- If the sliced cabbage isn’t completely submerged, dissolve 1-2 teaspoons salt in 1 cup water and add enough brine to cover.
Is it safe to use conventional cabbage instead of organic?
- Yes, you can use regular cabbage. Thoroughly washing will help remove pesticides. Avoid cabbage with signs of mold.
What causes white film yeast growth on top?
- Harmless yeast can develop with exposure to air. Simply skim off and discard the film, repack cabbage underneath if needed.
Why is my sauerkraut turning pinkish or black?
- This harmless discoloration can occur when cabbage hasvitamin C oxidation after chopping. It’s still perfectly safe to eat.
What should I do if I see mold?
- Discard entire batch of sauerkraut if blue, black, green or white mold develops, as it likely penetrated below the surface.
Can I use a water-filled zip-top bag instead of jar weights?
- Yes, a plastic bag filled with water works well to keep cabbage weighed down below the brine.
If I don’t finish my sauerkraut, how long does it last refrigerated?
- Properly fermented and stored, sauerkraut lasts 6-12 months refrigerated. The flavor may intensify over long storage periods.
- 1 head cabbage (about 1.8 kg or 4 lbs)
- 36 grams (about 2 tablespoons) kosher salt
- Cutting board
- Food scale
- Mixing bowl
- Mason jar (1⁄2 gallon size)
- Small plate that fits inside jar
- Plastic wrap
- Remove outer leaves from cabbage head. Slice cabbage in half through the core, then quarter each half. Slice out and discard tough core from each quarter.
- Thinly slice cabbage quarters lengthwise into strips. You want the strips to be approximately 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick.
- Place sliced cabbage in a large mixing bowl. Weigh cabbage on a food scale – you should have around 1.8 kg or 4 lbs of sliced cabbage.
- Calculate 2% of the cabbage weight by multiplying the weight in grams by 0.02. For 1.8 kg cabbage, that would be 1,800 grams x 0.02 = 36 grams salt.
- Sprinkle the calculated amount of kosher salt over the cabbage. Toss and squeeze the cabbage for 2-5 minutes, crushing it firmly with your hands, until it releases a lot of liquid.
- Pack sliced cabbage firmly into a 1⁄2 gallon wide-mouth mason jar, pressing down hard to expel juices. Make sure liquid covers cabbage completely. Leave about 1 inch of headspace at the top.
- Place a small plate that fits just inside the jar over the cabbage to keep it submerged under the brine (the released cabbage juice).
- Seal the mason jar with plastic wrap secured tightly around rim. This helps prevent outside contamination while allowing gases to escape.
- Store jar at room temperature away from direct sunlight for 2-3 weeks to ferment, opening daily to “burp” and release built up gases if you don’t have an airlock system.
- Start taste testing sauerkraut at 2 weeks. When it reaches desired sourness (recommended around 2 weeks), seal jar with metal lid and move to refrigerator.
- Once refrigerated, sauerkraut keeps for at least 1 month. Enjoy on sausages, sandwiches, with pork roast, or anywhere you want tangy, fermented flavor!
- Use fresh, crisp cabbage – Older, wilted cabbage may not ferment as well. Choose heads that feel very firm.
- Pack it tight – Getting the sauerkraut tightly packed into the jar helps ensure the cabbage stays submerged under the brine as it ferments.
- Weigh your ingredients – Using a food scale helps eliminate the guesswork and ensures you get the salt percentage right for proper fermentation.
- Filter your water – If you fill a zip-top bag with water to weigh down your cabbage, use non-chlorinated water to avoid inhibiting bacteria growth.
- Mind the temperature – Keep your fermenting sauerkraut at cool room temperature, between 60°F – 75°F is ideal. Too cold and fermentation slows, too hot and undesirable bacteria could multiply.
- Taste frequently – Test your batch every few days to catch it at peak tartness. Waiting too long can result in overly soft texture.
- Store properly – Make sure your fermented sauerkraut is always fully submerged under brine, even when jostled in the fridge. Keeping air away preserves quality.
- Enjoy the probiotics! – Once ready, the live cultures in this raw sauerkraut offer digestive and immune boosting health benefits.
- Experiment with flavors – Try adding minced garlic, caraway seeds or other spices to your batch for your own signature flavor.
- Make ahead for holidays – Sauerkraut takes 2-3 weeks to ferment, so plan batches in advance when you know you’ll need extra on hand.